Mark Sisson creator of the Primal Blueprint and delicious food company Primal Kitchen is on the show today. He shares his epic journey from oldest of four in Maine, to hippy endurance runner in San Francisco. Mark also discloses how he isn’t killing himself anymore with training, but understands how to keep fit when equipped with the right info. From pre-med to triathlete, and business entrepreneur he has a lot of golden nuggets to share. Oh, and what you will enjoy most about Mark is he isn’t going to say you can never eat a carb. You have to love a man who eats Paleo, sells paleo and has been married to his beautiful vegetarian wife Carrie for more than 25 years. Enjoy.
Listen to the episode here:
- The Entrepreneurial Roots [00:06:18]
- Running [00:11:37]
- Retiring from Running [00:24:25]
- Selling Supplements [00:36:59]
- Confronting Failure After Success [00:40:00]
- Diets in the Family [00:43:44]
- Cooking at Home [00:48:18]
- Learning About Health [00:52:00]
- Goal: To Affect People’s Lives [00:55:47]
- The Avocado Oil Based Mayonnaise [00:58:37]
- Accessing Metabolic Flexibility [01:08:06]
- Oils in Diets and Snacks [01:13:42]
- Wines and Desserts [01:15:37]
- The Combination of Experience and Mindset [01:19:05]
Mark Sisson – Metabolic Flexibility (Keto)
Welcome to the show. I’m so excited to be talking to an old friend of mine, Mr. Mark Sisson. Some of you may know Mark without even knowing him. He is the Founder of Primal Kitchen, the avocado oil-based salad dressing company. Personally, that’s the newest thing in the last couple of years. What oils can you eat? Avocado is certainly at the top of the list with coconut and really good olive oil. What Mark realized is that was getting a lot of people. People were trying to eat healthier and make good choices and then they were getting killed on some of their dressings. He started Mark’s Daily Apple, and he was doing the Primal Blueprint Diet. He’s written tons of books. He was your track athlete, a runner. The guy is so fit.
What I appreciate about Mark, besides his humility and entrepreneurial spirit, and curiosity is also the balance. When you’re approaching your self-care, health, or fitness, you look at Mark and you think, “That guy never has fun. He doesn’t do anything. He trains all day long.” The reality is he’s going to share about if we do a lot of these things right, we don’t have to kill ourselves. We have to make decent choices most of the time. I learned a lot about Mark that I didn’t know like his far-out journey from Maine out to Los Angeles. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Mark Sisson, thank you for coming to my home. I know I’m cutting into family baby visiting time.
It’s such a pleasure to be here, Gabby.
I first met you somewhere between either the beach in Malibu through Don Wildman or the gym, oddly enough. It’s not like a nightclub. What’s interesting is when I reflect back, you were doing a blog. You were doing your Daily Apple blog. When did that start?
It started in 2006.
I remember it was right after one of my kids was born. I remember thinking that you were far ahead because I wasn’t even thinking about that and you’re a bit older than I am, as far as, maybe one generation ahead of me. You were discussing that connection with connecting with people online even then. Social media didn’t exist.
Not in the form that it does today, for sure.
You had MySpace and blogging because 2007 and 2008 was when everything else came out. I want to drill down. By nature, you’re an entrepreneur. Where does that come from? Do you go to school? I know you’re from Maine.
I grew up in a fishing village in Maine. I did not want to be a fisherman and recognized that fairly early on.
Was anyone in your family in fishing?
No. My father was a fine artist, a painter, and quite successful in the context of being able to support a family of a wife and four children by selling paintings. He moved from Boston to Boothbay Harbor, Maine because that had been an art colony in the ‘50s and ‘60s and he had spent a summer there. His muse became the rock-bound coast of Maine, and he had a studio at the back of the house.
He didn’t go to work. He painted every day, but he didn’t commute. He didn’t get the car and drive to a job. There were times when he would work in a shipyard to make ends meet to cover the gaps. He played jazz piano. He played at nightclubs at night so he was a renaissance man and he made jewelry in his back office. When he wasn’t selling paintings, he had jewelry that he made so he was an entrepreneur.
Was your mom a straight-liner? He’s an entrepreneur. He’s artistic and creative. Was your mom the nuts and bolts person?
Yeah. She was busy with four kids. She cooked, cleaned, drove everybody to school, and did all the mom’s stuff but my dad was creative. He supported the family by doing all of these different things and so when I was 10 or 11 years old and making Christmas wreaths out of pine boughs and coat hangers and sold them to earn extra money. I remember staying home from school in eighth grade. I made $80 shoveling snow one day. I thought I was the richest kid in the world. When I was 12 and 13, I spent my summers working 40 hours a week mowing lawns. When I was 15, 16, and 17, I started painting houses in the summer. Eventually, I went to a private school and then through college painting houses.
I would imagine that for anyone who has this experience, it gives you independence, which always feels good. It feels good when you go, “I can work. I can show up to work. I can figure things out. I can make money and be independent.” That’s one feeling entrepreneurs enjoy and also maybe not being told what to do so much.
For sure. Those are two big points. Not working for the man was important to me but also, I had this creative side that I wanted to do what I felt compelled to do. Part of which was what I was good at and part of which gave me pleasure. I painted houses ultimately for about fifteen years instead of going to medical school because I was pre-med in college.
Why? Let’s intertwine your athleticism and athletics in there. When does that pop-up? Is that part of being a kid that then evolves because you have talent?
I lived 1.5 miles from school. Rather than take the bus to school, I jogged both ways with a bag full of books. That was my form of transportation. Over a number of years of doing that, I got fit. I was too small for the football team, basketball team, baseball, and hockey, which is a big sport in Maine so I went out for the track team as a freshman in high school. I wound up almost invariably winning 1 mile and 2 so that gave me instant cred with the jocks and the other guys because I was a brainiac in school. I was a nerdy kid. I was pretty smart and I was placed out of a lot of classes.
[bctt tweet=”The number one benefit of being in this metabolic flexibility is the control of appetite, hunger, and cravings.”]
I was in a program where the only PE class left for me was an all-senior PE class. These are rough and tumble fishermen kids from Maine and there’s a freshman among an all-senior class. I got the crap beat out of me on a regular basis. When I perform well at the track, it raises my stock with everyone there. I followed that path. I was capped in the cross-country team later in high school and then in college. It turned out that the longer the distance, the better I was at it so I started with 1 or 2 miles and then raced 5Ks and 10Ks. After college, I started entering marathons, and that became my main race. From ‘75 to ‘80, I raced primarily marathons.
You’re pre-med because you’re bright.
I tell parents, “There are three basic aspects to raising great kids. One is how you’re brought up in the household and one is who you hang out with.” My father had a friend who was a plastic surgeon, one of the most renowned plastic surgeons in the mid-Atlantic. He would come to Maine every summer and hang out. Because he played jazz clarinet, they had jam sessions. It was phenomenal but he was a plastic surgeon in the classic sense. He didn’t do boob jobs, lips, and noses.
It’s like fire accidents. He’s a real plastic surgeon, in the sense that he’s saving the quality of people’s lives.
I was fascinated by that so that’s what I thought, “This appeals to me. I want to do this. I want to help people. I want to be a doctor.”
If you are reconstructing a mangled hand or limb, it’s pretty impressive. Something happened when I was in college.
Was it organic chemistry?
It had a lot to do with it. It was the times. This is the early ‘70s and it was difficult to get into medical school, it always has been. I saw people that were grinding away and had no lives getting into medical school. I’m like, “They got in, but do they have good bedside manners, well-behaved physicians, or are they doing this?” Early on, I decided that I would rather study two hours a night and get a B plus than ten hours a night to get the A. That was a little cost-benefit analysis that I did.
Ultimately, I had taken my talents as a contractor. Because I was also building redoing houses and building furniture and so I built my dorm room. I had a concrete dorm room and I built within it a complete wall-to-wall paneling and wall-to-wall carpeting built on my furniture, such that it was a box within a box so that it didn’t intrude on any of the exterior walls.
I forget. Somebody came home for an alumni weekend and wanted to visit their old room. They walked in and they were stunned. They said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m pre-med.” He goes, “Why are you doing that? Why are you pre-med? Look at this.” I thought, “Yeah, you’re right.” It was a little switch that flipped in my head and then at the same time I was running well and I wanted to train for the Olympics.
Were you in college? Were you running for the school?
Yes. I was on the track team and the cross country team, but I was also entering road races.
Was it a qualification or crewing points?
No, it wasn’t at the time. At the time, it was ’75 and I graduated. It was too early to train for the ‘76 Olympics but the 80 Olympics was what I was pointing toward.
Those were the bummer ones, right?
I’m trying to remember.
That’s the one that Jimmy Carter said we’re not going. It’s tough being an athlete and it’s especially tough when something like that happens.
Look at the last Olympics. I have a lot of friends that were going to the Olympics and then they weren’t. You get out of school and you think, “I’m going to be painting houses.”
I was making a lot of money. I was making $100,000 a year as a single guy with a ladder on the top of a ‘72 Chevy. That’s part of my fitness. I was so fit and I looked at my job as training. I would paint houses all day and then go home and run fifteen miles. It was quite a lifestyle. It afforded me the ability to travel to races around the world. It was a great time.
Were you experimenting at all with certain food or anything? Was that part of the conversation or was it more like, “I’m going to work and work physically hard.”
It was about that time I started looking at how you fuel all those miles. The assumption was that you had to do a lot of miles. I was averaging 100 miles a week most of the end of my career. Yet, Bill Rogers, Frank Shorter, Alberto Salazar, and all the guys that were running it were doing 130 and 140. I felt like, “What a loser. I’m only averaging 100 miles a week.”
Can those guys walk now?
No, so there’s that. Not only that, but that amount of miles takes a severe toll on the heart. We all have heart damage now. From my generation of runners and endurance athletes and triathletes, those who have done it for more than 20 or 25 years have thickened left ventricles and a fib. I have premature ventricular contractions.
That’s from making the heart work too hard for too long.
Imagine spending hours every day with your heart rate at 70%, 80%, and 90% of its max rate and then a couple of times a week, running it up to the max as long as you can stand it and then recovering enough to catch your breath and then doing it again and again. Because I couldn’t do the miles that I thought I needed to do, I was looking at ways in which I might improve my performance with food and with supplements. The first supplement I did was 25 grams of vitamin C a day and that didn’t work. I tried it for a while but there’s a point that it says if you’re upping your intake of vitamin C. The term they use is bowel tolerance.
It’s like lysine. That will get you too. The Olympics aren’t happening. Where were you living?
I moved to Northern California. I was living in Western Massachusetts. I went to Williams College so I was living in Western Massachusetts from ‘71 through ‘78 and training in the Berkshires. It was a point at which I was training those amount of miles and I was tired of putting on about ten pounds of clothing to go out and running five below weather. I moved to Northern California where the number one cross country and track team was located. It was the Aggie Running Club at the time. We had ten guys qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon. It was a ragtag bunch of guys who liked running but did it well.
This is that whole who you’re around conversation so they’re ragtag but their ragtag level was high enough that everybody was being successful.
Disciplined, putting the miles in, and yet enjoying life.
How do you work that hard? It’s the late ‘70s and people are definitely having fun in the late ‘70s. How do you balance? Is it confined to the weekend?
For a lot of the people on my team, all they did was run, nap, and party. It wasn’t like they had jobs as I did. I had a legitimate business. Later on when you got paid to do this then it became fine to take a nap and do two a day and in between but at that point, we were still into having a good time. We had a van that we called the Vangina. We would bring it to races.
Did you have something hanging on the outside of the van if someone was busy?
There would be 8 or 10 of us going to these races. We had a refrigerator in the back full of beer and grass. Our motto was, “The faster we run, the sooner the fun.” I have to say that running or endurance activity is a difficult pursuit because it’s not fun while you’re doing it. It is all about managing discomfort. It’s literally about how much I can push myself and not crack.
What’s the thought? My sport was quite fun. The times that we’d even have to run a couple of miles for training, I always think about distance swimmers. What’s going through your mind?
That’s what I think about distance swimmers. At least I could see trees and birds, and I could talk to people I’m running with if I needed to. It’s all relative as you move down the hierarchy of endurance athletics, but running, at an elite level, it’s not about fun. If you’re a recreational runner, you can go out and you can have a group and you can train for the LA marathon and you can run, walk and talk. That’s great.
If you’re training at an elite level, mind-bending tricks that you have to take on, we used to talk about are you an associator or a dissociator when you run. An associator identifies with breathing, pain, and sensations. A dissociator designs and builds a house in his brain while they’re running. I was probably a dissociator because, in retrospect, I would remember days when all of a sudden, I’d wake up and I’d go, “Where did the last five miles go? How did I cross those streets?” It’s because I don’t remember doing it.
Running and cycling in a triathlon later on. A lot of it is about managing discomfort and it’s a mindset that you have to get into. Once you’re in it, it promotes itself because of the concept of endorphins. When they talk about a runner’s high, it’s a real thing. Three years later when I retired, first of all, it took me about five years to retire because I kept thinking, “I still got it. I can go back” I go to a race, I’d watch the events, and I’d go, “I could kick that guy’s ass. I should have been in that race,” and I’m going to start training again. It took me about five years to wind down my training.
Is that an identity thing? Is that a feeling that you get from all that training from that lifestyle? What are the things that make it hard to put behind you?
I don’t know. I know that I kept training hard even when I wasn’t racing.
A place to put it because sometimes it’s training hard to train hard. I go through that now because I’m not training for anything. You have to have a different relationship with the training.
When I say it took five years to wind it down, I could never wind it back up again. There’s nothing in me that would ever access that same mindset that I had. Once I lost it, once I lost my mojo for that, it was gone. I tried a couple of times. I entered the Malibu Dolphin Run, the 10K.
It’s the name alone. It’s like, “What are you doing?” “I’m doing the Dolphin Run.” That wouldn’t be it.
It hurts so bad to do a time that would have been an easy second run for me fifteen years earlier. I’m like, “Why am I doing this to myself? Who would choose to put themselves through that much discomfort?” One of the adaptations I made over the years is I tried to do fun things. To me, stand-up paddling is fun. It wasn’t that fun. It was windy and choppy. It was the most chop I’d seen in a quarter-mile out in a long time. I bought a foil, a lift.
That’s fun. The learning curve might be a little a couple of faceplants here and there. Do you still have your prop guard on?
You took your prop guard off.
I’ve got a flight. I don’t know if you know the difference.
I’ve been using a lift that I’ve been renting. I can ride. I can do 2, 3 minutes at a time. I can’t do the figure eights that Laird could do out in front of the house.
That’s what he does.
I got that. I love stand-up paddling. I live in Miami Beach so the water’s warm and it’s inviting. I play Ultimate Frisbee. The real love of my sports life is Ultimate. I have a regular game in Malibu when I’m here. I started that game. My son and I started the game years ago.
[bctt tweet=”I tell parents there are three basic aspects to raising great kids. One is how you were brought up in the household.”]
Where do you have it? Is it at the park?
It’s at the Point Dume School. Every Sunday for more than sixteen years a group of us have gone out there and played. As I left to go to Miami Beach, now there are 40 people on the list. On any given Sunday, 10 to 20 of them show up.
Are there fights?
It’s not a fight but there are certainly arguments over calls and things like that, which is why my wife and my daughter don’t play. They’ve been invited. They’re great players but they’ll come out and they go, “Dad there’s too much testosterone. There’s too much fighting.”
That’s how I feel about surfing. I don’t want to get yelled at. I want to go and I will try not to drop in on anyone and all this. You’re in Northern Cal. Are you now in Los Angeles when you transition out of running and triathlons?
Where were you?
What happened was I got injured from too much miles and an inflammatory diet, which I found out later. It led to Mark’s Daily Apple, books, and everything
At that time, what was an inflammatory diet? Give me a basic one.
I’m talking about a loaf of bread a day.
Those are the days of carbo-loading. If you didn’t carbo-load you were going to peter out. You’re going to run fuel.
That was the science of the day. Did we get that one wrong but people still do it. I would have pasta, bread, cereal, at least six packs of beer a day, and ice cream.
What is it in beer? Is it yeast?
Besides his alcohol, what are other ingredients?
Hops and barley. It’s the fermented grains. All of that added up to a highly inflammatory diet, which I now know to be true but at the time, you almost felt like it was a furnace and it’ll burn anything. It’s whatever you shove in the gullet. I weighed 30 pounds less than I do now.
You’re a fit bugger. What injury did you have?
I had a number of them. I had severe osteoarthritis in my feet.
Are you in your 30s at this time?
I’m in my late 20s, at this time. It would show up on a scan. Because I ran through that for so many years, I developed tendinitis in the opposite hip and that didn’t resolve until a few years ago. I had other things that are part of my story that I tell with Mark’s Daily Apple. My whole life from the age of 14 to 47, I had severe IBS.
It was horrible and it would dictate my life. I drove here from Pacific Palisades and I would have to think how many gas stations have an open bathroom on the way out there?
For 30 years you were managing that?
Yeah. From the age of 14 to 47. The year that I turned 47 was an epiphany. My wife had watched me write about food, diet, and exercise because I was starting to do books on sports performance and I’d written about the deleterious effects, the negative effects of grains, but I hadn’t removed them from my own diet because I’m back to, “I spent my whole life eating grains. I’m lean and trim. I’m not gaining weight. I don’t have the overt symptoms.”
I was fooling myself and so she said, “Why don’t you do a 30-day trial and get rid of grains?” I thought, “Sure. Okay. Why not?” I did and it was instantaneous. It was weeks. It wasn’t a year, but it was within weeks. Within those 30 days, everything was resolved. It didn’t resolve 100%. That resolved demonstrably and that was the big issue for me. I would say I got 90% or 95% recovery from that one thing. It was years later when I discovered collagen. I figured out the final piece of that puzzle.
Tell me how you ended up here in Southern California. You’re in Miami. I feel like this next chapter was all connected to help you become so informed because of your personal experience to get into the Daily Apple and then ultimately creating Primal Kitchen. It’s so funny. It always shows up that we’ll go through so many things in life. Even though it’s some of the hardest things it does pay off whether it’s physically personally in a relationship, in business, or all of the above, if we’re willing to look at it and some of the issues.
Everything’s perfect. It all makes sense. In the rearview mirror, it’s like, “That makes so much sense.” At the time, it’s painful or frustrating, or bewildering, but in retrospect, life is perfect the way it works out.
It’s hard to remember when you’re in the meat grinder or when you get your ass kicked in one way or the other.
Even when you’re getting your butt kicked, you can maintain a level of consciousness about the relative nature of where you are with respect to the rest of the world, your life, or your past history. It’s all survivable and in many cases, it’s thrivable. I moved from Northern California to Southern California to be a sportscaster.
Triathlon. I finished fourth at Ironman in ‘81.
For people reading, Ironman was one race in Hawaii on the Big Island with the best guys in the world. Now we have Ironman all over which is amazing but people don’t realize that in that day and age it was the Ironman.
We came in fourth.
I never taught myself to swim. I was probably one of the best runners that ever transitioned over to triathlon. I became a good cyclist but I was not about the swimming part of it. When you’re a skinny runner and you’re 28 years old trying to learn how to swim, the same methods don’t work. I did that. It was great. I then retired and started writing books on training for endurance athletics. I started writing a little bit about the diet and the exercise part. I moved to LA to be a sportscaster. I wanted to do triathlon coverage of these events that ESPN was now covering. That didn’t pan out.
In the interim between my science background and my writing about training, I got involved in writing the first set of rules for anti-doping rules for the sport of triathlon. Based on that I got a job offer as the executive director of the US Triathlon Federation as part of the Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs so I spent three years there.
Have you met Carrie, your wife yet?
What was that?
Every time I mention the Colorado Experience, she’ll raise a finger and go, “Remember how we did that?” I met her at Sports Club LA.
Did you get hit by a lightning bolt?
Your wife’s a beautiful woman.
I met her in ’88. By ‘89, we were living together and then I got this job offer. I said, “Will you move to Colorado Springs with me?” She’s an LA girl, a California girl so it’s restaurants and shopping and going out with friends and all this other stuff. It was a big sacrifice for her but she moved to Colorado with me if I married her. We got married in Colorado Springs, and then we had our first child in Colorado so it was a great launching pad for our marriage.
What’s interesting is when you go to a new place, sometimes when you’re in a new marriage, it almost takes away everybody else and gives you that opportunity to create your family. Especially if you have people who are close to their families. Laird and I didn’t have that so much. His mom had already passed but for a lot of people, no friends were around. It’s just you and me for this beginning part. It’s pretty great.
It was great. However, after three years, I’d done what I went there to do and had accomplished a number of things and so I came back to LA. I took a job with a friend, as his chief operating officer of a vitamin company, so I got more involved in the supplement side.
Beyond vitamin C?
Well beyond vitamin C. Five years after that, I said that the entrepreneur in me needed to do his own thing so I started my own company. I started doing supplements. I started selling them on the radio and television. Not infomercial-wise but I found a little method where I could sponsor these talk shows on health. For 6 or 7 years, my business grew 5% or 6% every month.
It’s that educational platform and then you have the upsell.
That’s what I do. At heart. I’m an educator. That’s what I’m best at. My superpower is taking complex scientific thought and distilling it down into bits of information that the average person can understand and take in and use. With respect to supplements, I was doing that on television and I was doing phenomenally well in building this business. I was running it now out of Malibu. It was a wonderful time.
In 2004, something happened and the model changed for whatever reason. You had the internet coming on strong as a buying platform and I didn’t have an internet strategy. Internet strategy wasn’t even a term I would have been aware of. Three hundred cable channels and now you had not just cable but also dish and direct.
In the old days when there was an infomercial or something on TV, it was like, “There’s an infomercial. Let’s go look at it and see what it is.” Now, it’s fifteen infomercials at the same time and the public was getting immune to the call to action of, “If you pick up the phone right now and call, you get a free bottle.” “Wait. There’s more.” That shifted, but I’d been doing well with his television appearances. By now, I’m taking the actor training that I had.
You’re becoming a presenter. There’s a way to present information because I first have met you only personally and then I’ve been in a few situations where I’ve watched you be a communicator. It all has come together. You’re able to have an informative casual conversation with people that they don’t even realize. I’ve seen it a few times with you so it’s interesting.
When this is happening and you have two children now and maybe things aren’t going well, because this is the entrepreneur side, do you worry or were you like, “I’m going to land on my feet and it’s going to be fun.” What’s going on in your mind? This is the thing. The reason why people aren’t willing to try or go out on their own is that not only is that fear of failure but you can be successful and start to fail after that.
That’s almost the worst.
What do you do? How do you adapt? You talk all about it and I want to get into it, that it’s about being flexible. On your emotional and intellectual side, what were you thinking?
When that model fell apart, I thought, “I can fix it and I can make it work,” so I spent 2005 producing and starring in my own health TV show. It was called Responsible Health. I bought time on the Travel channel. I shot 52 half-hour episodes of this show. I had a set, a co-host, and guests, it was a well-done show, if I do say so myself.
[bctt tweet=”Everything’s going to be okay. All we have is now. I wouldn’t get too caught up in worrying about the past or even more so, worrying about the future.”]
Were you paid for it, and then I sold it after?
I paid for it and I was the commercial sponsor on the breaks. I was thinking about how I’d like to syndicate the show but in the interim, if I can’t syndicate it enough, I can’t find a buyer, I can have it be self-liquidating and I can sell my supplements on the breaks. I lost $1 million that year.
I was going to say how that’s a risk right there.
I’ve got a business that was failing in terms of losing customers. In the direct response business, D2C, they call it now, they used to call it DR, you have to churn. You always have to get new customers in and keep them for three months and you others on the back end. I was losing because I wasn’t getting new customers and I was losing my customer base. In 2005, that didn’t work, and that cost money. I have a new house in Malibu and a wife and two kids. In 2006, I thought, “This blogging thing sounds interesting. I’m pretty good at creating content and I have a lot to say. Let me try my hand at blogging.” I started Mark’s Daily Apple. It was a silly name. I had an editor who worked with me.
She was a woman. I remember.
She said, “Let’s see. Your name is Mark and apple seems to be a ubiquitous harmless thing. It’s going to be every day so let’s call it Mark’s Daily Apple.” That’s how it came out. My name, MarkSisson.com was taken. That was that.
Now, do you have so now you got to show up every day for this thing?
We were talking about this earlier. There’s a part of you that’s like, “Let’s grind it out all the way,” and there’s a part of you that’s like, “I want to have the freedom.” You’re getting pinched in your business, your children are quite young, you have a home and you have responsibilities. Now you’re going to start something new that you will not see an immediate return.
What’s guiding you?
At that point, I knew that I was onto something by the reaction I got from the readers that I did have.
How did you get your readers? Did you send newsletters to your old customers?
It was the definition of organic starting out. I didn’t know SEO. I don’t think anybody knew SEO at the time. It was basically putting it out there and showing up every day with an article that was well researched and well written and getting into a space that was a nascent area that hadn’t yet been exploited to any extent. They were two other paleo blogs.
Why paleo? Is it because it’s the way you were living? Was it new and a little more on-trend? Were you going to go, “I’m going to drill down on this and sink or swim with the paleo message.”
From the beginning, I didn’t want to be paleo. I wanted my own brand. Primal came out early. I started using the term primal in the ‘80s. I was training people, as part of this larger effort to coach, write and do all these things so I coined primal fitness and that became my fitness company. I self-published the book, The Ultimate Lean Routine in the late ‘80s. That was Primal Urge Press. I’ve always been the primal guy.
The Primal Blueprint evolved out of this desire to take my strong interest in evolution, how we got here and what it takes to tap into the genetic potential that we all have. That’s the through-line in my career. At the time, Loren Cordain had written a book on paleo a few years earlier. It hadn’t done that well but I read it and liked the concept. By then I’d already gotten myself off of grain. I started to formulate this idea.
If what was happening to me as a result of the adjustments that I had made in my own life, my diet, my sleep, and my exercise patterns, I cut way back on the amount of exercise I did but I was smart about how I did it, that I could share that wisdom with other people and they could choose or not to use it. I put it out there and it resonated well with people. When I said it resonated well, at the end of one year, I had 1,000 viewers a day which was nothing in the context of what it ultimately became. I was using that as a platform to sell my supplements.
Tim Ferriss always talks about this. As somebody who is an early adopter and getting a large audience, he always says, “You’re dealing with 1,000 people. People have this whole idea of putting everything ahead of numbers in this. Show up, do your job, try to do a good job, and people will come. They’ll find you.” At this time is Carrie a vegetarian?
By then, she was not. When we got married, she was a vegetarian. Her parents had been standard American dieters and in their 40s, decided to adopt a vegetarian way of eating. It was progressive at the time.
Did they have heart or health issues?
No. They were healthy. They were so healthy that they wanted to achieve the next-level stuff. At the time, John McDougall was the leading proponent that they would read and they went to his camps and things like that. They adopted this vegetarian lifestyle. Carrie adopted it and at the same time, her sister did. By the time we were married, she was a vegetarian. By the time my kids were born, they were raised vegetarian.
Your son took to it but you and your daughter ate the same. Now you have a business that’s around primal eating, which would also be considered either somewhat not paleo or keto but it’s towards that direction. Was she a pescatarian?
By then she’s pescatarian because she had gotten a physical hint early on that she wasn’t getting enough protein. She started eating fish more than twenty years ago. For the first two years, my son was vegetarian and then my wife and I let the kids choose what they wanted to do and he kept doing what he was doing. When my daughter was two years old, we were at a friend’s house for thanksgiving.
I was going to say, “Did she smell bacon?” That always seems to be the converter.
It was Thanksgiving and we had fifteen people around the table. Devyn was barely two and walking around. Somebody said, “Can Devyn have turkey?” My wife said, “No. She’s a vegetarian.” At the other end of the table, somebody said, “Not anymore, she isn’t.” She was already down in the turkey.
Were there rules or conversations between the two of you like, “We’re going to respect each other and not comment on it.” How do you navigate because you’re cooking meals? I know other households that are like that. How do you deal with it?
It’s tough for a lot of people but it wasn’t tough for us because I cooked most of my own meals. Based on what my work schedule was and my wife taking care of the kids, she would say, “I’m not going to cook your steak for you, but I’ll make the vegetables and the salad. You can cook the steak.” I was like, “That takes four minutes. I’m good with that.” There was no contention in the family. Later on, as my son got older and decided that he was the kid who didn’t eat meat so it became part of his identity. He’s the smartest kid that his friends know. He’s over 26 now. He’s one of the most amazing athletes I’ve ever seen. I can’t argue that his choices were bad.
Did he eat fish?
Where is he getting his protein?
He eats eggs, protein powders, and a little bit of cheese. It isn’t about the animalness or the ethics of it. It’s the texture. It’s flesh. When he was 15 or 16, we went to Spruzzo down here. He said, “Tonight’s the night I’m going to try some of the stuff.” We ordered some chicken, some steak, and some sashimi.
It’s a weird combo.
Of the three, he much preferred the sashimi because it had the texture of avocado, which he was used to.
Do you think it’s knowing how your body breaks down food and converts food energy? Maybe it’s also like how there are people who do better with animal protein and people who do better with more vegetables. It’s the way their system runs.
I would agree with that. It’s a lot of work to be a true vegan.
It’s a butt-kicker. That’s what you’re doing. You live in a yurt and you’re by yourself or you have a staff and somehow they’re accumulating all the things for you.
Maybe they get it right. It’s a full-time job.
You have Mark’s Daily Apple. I want to go back to going through the lean, meaning, you’re seeing a return part. Do you go, “I’m on to something. I have the voice inside. It’s telling me you’re on the right path. It’s going to be okay.” I’ve been in those situations in our own professional lives. I knew you during this time and you didn’t go, “Look at Mark. It looks like he’s going through it.” I’d see you at the gym and there you were. Is that what the inner voice is? Is it, “I have been down-ish before and I’m going to figure it out.” What is that?
There’s a lot of that. By then, I’d already made a lot of money and lost a lot of money a couple of times. It wasn’t like, “I did it once and I can never do it again.” It was, “What’s the next thing?” With Mark’s Daily Apple, I was making some sales and then I saw a new stream of income from books so I wrote The Primal Blueprint in 2009 and it sold 500,000 copies well
It created real communication. When that book came out, it felt like a specific destination. It’s the blueprint. I felt like you created a terminology.
I spent almost three years on that book to get it right and I feel like I got it right. I feel like that was the culmination of all the stuff I’ve done in my life. It was all coming together and taking these scientific, sometimes arcane concepts about gene expression, evolution, and the clues from evolution and why our bodies expect us to do certain things. When we try to sidestep or thwart that we get slapped in the face for it.
It became a template that then informed pretty much everything I did from there. I spent a lot of time building this base from that Primal Blueprint. I’ve done fifteen other books. I did seminars, and I did PrimalCon, which was a three-day Primal experience where we would have these events around the world. We did Primal luxury retreats where we would have 12 people, 6 couples, come to Malibu and stay in a luxury house with trainers, cooks, and everything else and fully get involved in the lifestyle. There were all sorts of these new streams of income that I found.
I love the way you talk about keto because it’s become so on-trend. People are like, “I’m keto.” I feel like you have one of the healthiest approaches to that type of eating. What is it with people? We have all the information about what we’re supposed to do. You’ve seen it time and time again? Why would somebody need to come to a luxury retreat, have a chef and then immerse them? You’re like, “You and I are going to decompress and downregulate and take a walk on the beach or go take a hike.” What is it inside of people that keeps them from figuring that out?
First of all, if I had the answer to that, we could save $2 trillion in health issues in this country every year. People learn in different ways. I’ve said many times, “I can tell you everything you need to know about how to live a better life on one sheet of paper.” I have fifteen books, I have all these seminars, I have all these podcasts and I’ve done and all these TV shows.
[bctt tweet=”My superpower is taking complex scientific thought and distilling it down into bits of information that the average person can understand and take in and use.”]
People want to hear what resonates with them. They want to hear stories about other people. They want to hear the science behind it. They want to see the charts and the graphs. They want it in big print. They want it in color print. They want photographs. They want to experience it in real-time. They want to hang out with the guru, the person who developed the whole thing.
Are those all excuses to get in the way of taking the step to making the change?
Maybe, for some people. Some people get it in the beginning. I remember when I wrote the Primal Blueprint. I felt, “My work is done.” I’ve said what I need to say and they’ve got it. People say, “I love the book. It was fantastic. I got it. It resonated with me now what do I do?” I’m like, “I told you what to do.” I follow that up with a book called the 21-Day Total Body Transformation where I hold your hand, “Here’s what you do on day one.”
This always fascinates me. Sometimes when you’re trying to connect with your kids, maybe if I say it like this, they’ll understand, or I’ll say it like that. I always find it interesting what is holding people back. It’s the comfort of doing something a certain way or feeling like they can’t make a change. There are a myriad of reasons. You’re in this business and you have the ability to connect with people and provide at least the conversation around solutions. How do you get from the books and Primal Blueprint to Primal Kitchen?
Early on, I set as a goal that I wanted to affect 10 million people.
When was this goal set?
From day one in 2006 in Mark’s Daily Apple. The mission statement was to affect the lives of 10 million people by giving them enough information that they could take back their health. Early on, we closed in on that goal so I changed the number to 100 million. I started to realize that through the blog through podcasts, I could impart this knowledge a certain way. As you describe it, at some point, people have heard that enough. What else can you do? How else can you impact people’s lives?
In 2014, I was writing so much about food and how to make your own this, and how horrible the industrial seed oils were in the condiments you were buying and in the salad dressings. Even though I would be posting a recipe about how to make your own mayonnaise with avocado oil and then I get complaints from people saying, “I tried three times. I went through $18 worth of avocado oil and I never got it to emulsify.” I thought, “How come somebody’s not taking on this area?”
In the last couple of years, I’ve been writing about what happens when you eliminate sugars and industrial seed oils. If you get rid of the crap, the pies, cakes, candies, cookies, cereals, bread, and the harmful oils, there’s not a lot of food left. It’s all-natural real food, meat, fish, fowl, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and a little bit of fruit. What makes the difference is how you prepare them, the sauces, the dressings, the toppings, and the methods of preparation. That’s how you keep the excitement in a diet that is otherwise a little bit limited but could be infinitely much more palatable if you got the right added sauces and flavor enhancers.
That became the impetus for Primal Kitchen. I want to make the products that I wished existed that I would use with reckless abandon versus picking up a jar of typical mayonnaise and going, “It tastes pretty good but I can’t use too much because I’m going to wreck my health.” A light went on and it was like, “This is an area that nobody has addressed in food.”
One of the reasons was the people who are making lots of food products work backward from price. It’s like, “It has to sell for $3.29. What are the cheapest ingredients we can use to make it crunchy, salty, fatty, sweet, and palatable for the average consumer?” We on the other hand took an entirely wrongheaded approach. It was my hubris and naivete that got us into this business. Let’s build it first the way we want it, see what it costs to make, and then price it accordingly.
How do you do that? Are you messing around in your own kitchen first? Are you going to somebody?
I started my own kitchen. I had some things that I’d been making over the years vinaigrette dressings, and a couple of easy sauces and things like that. In the first year, I hired a chef. I wanted to introduce a suite of products so I wanted ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, red sauce, gold sauce, and some salad dressings.
I had lamb meatballs and I used unsweetened ketchup. For moms out there who don’t know, there’s unsweetened ketchup. When we’re trying to avoid sugar yet it’s in everything. Usually, the ketchup with sugar tastes better. Your ketchup tastes great. I wanted to tell you. I’m proud of it. Is Carrie like, “That’s a great idea.”
No, but she’s not against it. I had enough people around me. I had hired a CEO. To take a step back, a year into this, we were doing this R&D. We have one product, mayonnaise. The rest we can’t make to scale. On a whim, my cofounder Morgan and I said, “Let’s do this. Let’s launch it and see what the response is.”
When you say, “Let’s do this,” are you knocking on doors at every local store? How are you launching it?
That’s how you used to do it but now we get to the power of the platform. Now I’m spending the last couple of years building platforms. I have millions of monthly viewers. Now I have people who trust me, who are fully invested in the way of living that I’m espousing. We had this mayonnaise. Rather than having a suite of products like 5 or 6 products, we had mayonnaise. Rather than wait any longer, I said, “Let’s launch a mayonnaise and keep working on the other things and we can introduce them later on down the line.”
In February of 2015, I went to my co-packer and said, “What’s the smallest batch we can run because this is expensive stuff?” He says, “We can do 12,000 jars.” I’m rolling my eyes going, “Twelve thousand jars. I could still have that in my warehouse in a year.” We launched with some fanfare on our platform because I had my own fulfillment center and I had been one of the first if not the first investors in Thrive Market. They also were launching about the same time and they wanted a unique product for their online platform. Long story short, we sold 10,000 units in the first two weeks. I knew we were onto something there.
What was your cost of goods? What was your price at that time?
$9.95 was the retail price.
How many ounces was that?
It was twelve ounces. Go figure.
You’re crushing it. I go to any grocery store because it’s everywhere. Forget Whole Foods. Let’s go into Ralphs. How much is it there?
$7.95. It’s down. Typically, we’ll have everyday low pricing for some stores, and depending on what part of the country you’re in, you can go to Costco and get a double size for $8.95. There are all manner of ways in which you fill the marketplace up with this.
You guys break out with all your dressings and holiday dressings.
I’d already been working on a collagen bar. Rather than introduce it into my supplement line, I thought, “We’ll brand it as Primal Kitchen and see how that does.” At the same time, we finally finished two salad dressings and one other flavor of mayonnaise.
Was this spicy? Was this the chipotle line?
It’s so good.
We have two mayonnaises, two bars, and two salad dressings by the end of 2015. We kept adding products. We have 85 products now. We have pasta sauces now. We have ketchup and mustard. The ketchup is good. This has been a known problem in the food industry for years.
Who’s going to go first? That’s always the thing. We don’t have confidence in customers and we also have to honor where customers are going like, “I have X dollars to spend a week.” When they start looking at the value of their health or doing it for their kids, they go, “I’ll spend the extra.” It becomes a different mindset. A lot of people are interested in burning fat for fuel. They know if you eat keto. It’s low carb and it’s all that but you have one of the best approaches to being flexible and adaptable.
In my own evolution in the world of nutrition science and diet, I was high carb in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and part of the ‘90s.
You were an endurance athlete.
I had to be, apparently. I was low carb and paleo with Primal.
How did you feel when you were doing that?
Great, but I wasn’t training 2 to 3-hour workouts a day with my heart racing at max, which is definitely possible to do that under those circumstances. I didn’t enter that arena ever again. Keto became the next level thing for me in my investigation because I’ve talked about being a fat-burning beast for years now. I’ve espoused the idea that while people assume that glucose is the predominant fuel for the body and everything you do depends on glucose and that’s why you have the five small meals a day and not go more than 2.5 or 3 hours without eating or else you get low blood sugar and you’ll feel faint or you’ll cannibalize muscle tissue and all this other crap.
If I’m going to teach people how to burn fat, what’s the best way to access stored body fat all the time on a regular basis? That led me to keto. Ketogenic diets are phenomenal and any doctor who tells you otherwise has not done the research. However, ketogenic diets are fairly difficult to sustain over the long haul. I always take a step back and I go, “Why am I here?” “I’m here to enjoy life.”
I’m not here to go down a path that’s monastic, aesthetic, spartan, and all this. I’m here to enjoy life. I want to get the most enjoyment, fulfillment, and contentment, out of every moment possible and that includes every bite of food I eat. I prefer not to be so exclusive in my diet that things that I would otherwise enjoy eating, that are otherwise still good for me or healthy for me are automatically excluded because I’m “keto.”
I started developing this concept and I’m not the first one to use the term but I certainly popularized it and that’s metabolic flexibility. Metabolic flexibility simply means you’ve trained your body to access energy from whatever substrate happens to be handy at the time. It means you can burn glucose in your bloodstream, glycogen from your muscles, ketones that your liver makes, fat in your muscles, you can burn the carbohydrate off your plate of food, the fat off your plate of food. There are all manner of wonderful energy-producing substrates that are available. If you’ve spent your life just depending on carbohydrates, you never tap into these other magical sources of fuel. You never become good at burning fat. You simply need more glucose to stay in that cycle.
They call it the Bagel Cycle. You burn that and then you go, “I need something quick. A quick fuel.”
Most of the country has existed on that cycle for a long time and it’s insidious because it dictates your day like, “I’m sorry, Gabby. We can’t do it at noon. That’s lunchtime and if I miss lunch, I’ll be hangry,” or, “I’ve got a long flight and they’re not serving food. What am I going to do? Maybe I won’t go.” I’ve heard people say that. When you become good at accessing all these different energy sources, primarily fat and somewhat ketone, a skipped meal is nothing. A skipped day of eating is nothing and you feel better as a result of having done that. That’s a leap of faith for a lot of people to take unless you’ve done that.
To think that not only does the body not need to eat three times a day, it’s probably better off not eating three times a day. More of the repair work gets done when you’re not eating than when you’re eating. What I’ve done is I’ve developed this concept of metabolic flexibility, which basically says, “Use keto. Eliminate carbs for a couple of weeks at a time.”
Let’s say I’m sitting at home and I’m reading this, either I’m looking for more access to this flexibility or maybe I even want to lose some weight. It’s time. You need to carve out that faith-based few weeks. It’s not going to be the easiest walk in the park but you’re this is when you have to tighten it in. What does that look like?
I want to run a 10K. I don’t want to embarrass myself on the 10K so I’m going to have to train for six weeks. Once the 10K is over, I don’t have to train that way. I can coast on the new level of fitness that I’ve achieved. With keto, you have to get into low-carb. It only works because you’ve deprived the body of its normal level of glucose, which is carbohydrates. In doing so, the body is smart. The body says, “If this person isn’t going to be consuming carbs at every other meal, there’s going to be less glucose available. We’re going to have to tap into this genetic blueprint that we all have that causes us to burn more fat and do it more efficiently.”
[bctt tweet=”If you feel that good, why would you stop doing it? The answer is you’d stopped doing it because it was a chore. It was difficult because hunger was defeating you.”]
The thing that takes place where the body makes more mitochondria. The mitochondria is where the fat burns. Now you have more of these fat-burning furnaces. The liver takes some of the fat in your body and turns it into ketones. Ketones are a fuel that the brain prefers even over glucose. The problem is most people never get a chance to experience that.
As you withhold the glucose and you become what we call fat-adapted, you’re better at burning fat, the muscles then learn that they’re going to get most of their energy moving about the day, Basal Metabolic Rate, even activities up to 70%, 75%, 80% of max capacity can all be fueled almost 100% by fat. You don’t need that much glucose. The brain is thriving on the ketones and now you enter this state where all of a sudden you go, “I don’t feel hungry. It’s bizarre.”
The cravings go.
The number one benefit of being in this metabolic flexibility is the control of appetite, hunger, and cravings. With that, you can not only reign in the quantities that you eat at a meal, but almost invariably people say, “Three meals a day is too much food. I’m going to do two meals a day.” A lot of people will do lunch and dinner, skip breakfast, or some people do breakfast and lunch.
There are a lot of days when I go from lunch to lunch and don’t eat dinner. It’s not a challenge. It’s not difficult. If I didn’t think about it, I wouldn’t even think about it. Because you become metabolically flexible, your body is able to access stored body fat readily. I’m 170 pounds. I’m 10% body fat so I have seventeen pounds of fat on me. That’s 50,000 calories.
I’m right there with you.
It sounds like a lot and it is. Not all of that is accessible because of some of the fat you need for protection, especially if you’re a woman. Let’s say I have 30,000 calories on me. Even at 1,500 calories a day of basal metabolic rate, I go twenty days without eating and shrink and dwindle much muscle mass. Not that I’m going to do that.
You’re a person who has talked about wanting to make sure to keep your muscle mass because you can be thinner. You’re always managing and dealing with that. Let’s say someone goes, “I’m going to do it,” is it saying, “For a month to six weeks.” Once you get your body into that place, overall trying to eat that way but then if you go, “I have this or I have a little bit of that,” it doesn’t knock you out of that flexibility.
Some people, because they’ve spent a lifetime developing a dysfunctional metabolism, are going to have a little bit more work to do. Most people, after 3 or 4 weeks will go, “I feel better. I’ve lost weight. I’ve mental clarity. I’m sleeping better. I’ll keep doing this.” If you feel that good, why would you stop doing it? The answer is you’d stopped doing it because it was a chore. It was difficult because hunger was defeating you. The point is hunger shouldn’t be defeating you. If it gets to that point, I have these little workarounds. Keep keto snacks handy. Keep a handful of macadamia nuts or some coconut butter or something like that to take the edge off, but don’t let yourself get hungry.
That’s s quality fat with maybe a little bit of some protein. People don’t realize it. It’s weird, our brain goes towards things that will deserve that goal. I joke about bread and bagels and things like that but you can keep pushing yourself towards those other types of snacks. You’re walking around the grocery store, your products are avocado oil-based. We talked about olive oil and coconut oil.
Those are the best fats.
Sunflower oil, vegetable oils, and certain oils are in a lot of products that are even organic and healthy. I have kids and your kids are grown but all those healthy organic chips and stuff are all in canola. People have to understand when you’re talking about the mitochondria and the power of the mitochondria in burning fat, these are things that also mess with the mitochondria and their function. To remind people, there’s a level of consciousness that they can keep up where it’s like, “If you’re doing all this other stuff right, look out for these little…”
That was the problem with the Atkins Diet. Atkins was all fats are fine but cut the carbs. All fats are not fine. Fats exist on a spectrum from pretty horrible to pretty amazing. At the amazing end, you have coconut oil, avocado oil, butter, ghee, and lard. Animal fats are quite healthy in this context. On the bad end, you have canola and soybean oil in 60% or 70% of all processed foods and they’re insidious. My friend Cate Shanahan, who’s a doctor will say, “These are more devastating to health than sugar and you should look to identify these.” That’s one of the reasons that we created this line of products based solely around avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil.
If I go to a fast food place and I get French fries, let’s say those are typically cooked in vegetable oil, right?
Right. When you say vegetable oil, you say it’s a good thing.
No. It’s being clear that it would be almost better to go to the market. It’s not as satisfying but if you think, “I have to have French fries,” you go to the market and you can get those ones that you bake. There are things you can do where we don’t realize that little treat of, “Is it worth it?” Is there a point?
You go to a restaurant and you got an amazing salad and then you find out it was drenched with soybean oil-based dressing. You’ve taken this otherwise incredibly healthy melange of phytonutrients and all sorts of wonderful things and you’ve basically done yourself a disservice with the dressing you put on.
It’s better to ask them if they can bring you some olive oil and do it yourself. Talk to me about the wine that you like to drink. You have a special wine.
My buddy, Todd White, has a company called Dry Farm Wines. They curate wines from around the world. The reason that I’m so big on this company is that I like wine, particularly red wine. It does not serve me well to drink big, thick, rich fat, chocolatey, leathery, skunky American calves, for instance, because there’s so much sugar in them. They’re high in alcohol, higher than normal alcohol because Americans tend to like the deep reds. They are over-macerated skins. That’s the tannins and the histamines.
There are 76 approved additives that the Department of Agriculture and the FDA will allow winemakers to put in without disclosing them. I wanted a wine that still tasted great. Some of the wines in the US have more sugar than Coca-Cola. Todd finds wines that are lower in alcohol, typically 12.5% or 13%, and don’t have the added sulfites. All wine has some sulfite naturally, but they don’t have added sulfites. They don’t have the over-macerated grape skin residue in there, don’t have any of the 76 approved additives, and are tested for being low to no sugar. That’s the big thing for me because these are basically wines you can drink if you’re keto and not messing with your keto program.
Do you have any dessert-y hacks? What are your rules on that that you try to do? I know sometimes it’s nice to have a treat.
For the longest time, when we have dinner parties, we serve a dessert that is blueberries and raspberries topped with whipped cream and mascarpone cheese. The berries are the allowable fruits in general that would otherwise be maybe contraindicated on a keto diet.
Do you mean over a banana?
Mark is almost like, “Bananas.”
People have said, “Why don’t you make desserts?” I’m like, “That’s not part of my lifestyle. I’m not a dessert person.” To me, dessert is always, “That’s the meal I eat after I eaten my meal.”
You’re obviously not a woman. That’s all I’m going to tell you. It’s also authentic. The reason Primal Kitchen has blown up so quickly is it is authentic. Congratulations on that. It’s a real testament to following your own path and that’s important, whether you’re an entrepreneur, it’s taking who you are and also aiming for that even in your business. It’s not about your personal life. I find that in the most successful people, those things are not in conflict. They’re in harmony. I appreciate that. The exciting thing for you is you’ve become a grandfather. I’m curious. What’s this experience been like for you?
Did it surprise you as far as how you felt?
Yeah. I knew. I was prepared for it and I knew how much I loved my kids and raising them. I knew how much fun I had with them when they were young. Now I have my kid, my daughter, and she has a daughter. It’s spectacular. The only issue is that they live here and we live in Miami so we don’t get a chance to see them that often but we’ve been here. This will be a three-week trip this time and seeing JJ every day. It’s special.
It feels like your dad’s creativity and own unique way of approaching life gave you the freedom to think about how you could probably do it in any way you wanted.
I never dreamed of being the Mayo king of Malibu. It just happened. Once it happened, it’s like, “That makes sense.” It’s perfect in the context of everything that went before. It was a natural evolution and it was an evolution of being ready, willing, and able to pivot when I hit a roadblock. That’s what I coach and mentor with other companies. There’s nothing wrong with pivoting. You have a game plan, but if it doesn’t work out, maybe that wasn’t meant to be in the first place.
I’m always hoping to get people to spark either a deeper pursuit of their relationship with their well-being and health or to initiate that relationship. Whichever. Because you’ve been so entrenched in this, if you can bestow upon somebody either an invitation. It feels daunting for a lot of people. It’s like, “That was lucky for him. He ran from high school and then he kept going. He’s a healthy guy, he had progressive parents and whatever.” Is there any advice or reminders you would drop off?
Everything’s going to be okay. All we have is now so I wouldn’t get too caught up in worrying about the past or even more so, worrying about the future. It’s important to have goals, but it’s not critical that you meet those goals. It’s good to have goals and to be working towards something. At the end of the day, and this is the most simple piece of advice to give out and the most difficult one to embrace and employ, your happiness is determined by your thoughts right now.
You could change your happiness right now if you only change your thoughts about that. I spend my life reminding myself that I can shift my mood. Anything that’s happening around me is happening around me. It’s not happening to me. It’s my perception of it and my reaction to it that’s causing discomfort, pain, and misery, and I can shift that with a change in thought.
That is a practice that once you do that enough times, even when you don’t want to when you’re tired of feeling a certain way, you’re reminded, “I have a choice at this moment so maybe I want to make a different one that feels good to me.” I saw you in the gym in 2005. From Seeing you in the gym, then learning about Mark’s Daily Apple to watching you create this business and this whole communication. You are a real inspiration and a real reminder of going for it and worrying about letting the outcome worry about itself later. I’m excited for you and your family. I can’t wait to see what you guys are going to do next.
Thank you for having me, Gabby. It’s been a pleasure.
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About Mark Sisson
Mark founded Mark’s Daily Apple in 2006 to fulfill his personal mission: to empower people to take full responsibility of their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness. More than a decade ago, when Mark started this blog, he was one of the first bloggers to write prolifically about the Paleo movement. After years of self-experimentation, which included using his own body to test which foods, types of movement, and lifestyle changes made the most positive impacts on his health and wellness, Mark pioneered his own version of the Paleo diet. He investigated the principles of the Paleo diet, conducted vigorous research, applied what worked well in his self-experiments, and listened to what worked for others to devise the Primal Blueprint—Mark’s original take on how to thrive in the modern world armed with lessons learned about the ways our ancestors lived.