I Now Have Respect and Love for My Own Body
Mark’s Daily Apple
by Mark Sisson: How
To Conduct a Personal Experiment: Biphasic Sleeping
Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal
Blueprint Real Life Story from a Marks Daily Apple reader.
If you have your own success story and would like to share it with
me and the Marks Daily Apple community please contact me here.
Ill continue to publish these each Friday as long as they
keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
I know I sound
crazy. Like, Hare Krishna, ran off and joined a cult, crazy. But
this is all true, and I know it is, only because I experienced it
firsthand. Am I a good example, or a horrible warning? Hopefully,
if I play my cards right, I can be both.
of childhood are hazy. Especially names, places, and dates. I spent
a lot of time, just sort of drifting with the current.
I remember images, and faces. And I remember being sick a lot. Not
like I HAVE THE SCARLET FEVER! sick, but just a runny
nose, and teary eyes. Since I grew up in Californias Central
Valley, no biggie: seasonal allergies were legendary there. Hay
fever was just assumed. The fact that it turned into sinus infections
on a regular basis was just a given- right? As I got older, it would
last year-round. Inevitably at the first cold snap, I would lose
my voice. There was always a chalky pink bottle of amoxicillin in
our fridge door, right below the milk.
I was also
prone to ear infections, and vividly remember a procedure at around
age 5 where they made me swallow something that glowed
and then not being allowed to move so they could get a better idea
about the bladder infections I couldnt seem to kick.
I seemed to
outgrow most of it: with the exception of the lethargy and the sinus
stuff. Poor Mom knew something wasnt right and
dragged me to so many doctors: to have my thyroid tested, to check
for allergies, and everything came up fine. The ENT
guy finally just said, This kid is sniffling constantly because
she has teeny nasal passages, and gigantic adenoids. She might grow
out of it, or shell need surgery as an adult. Great.
By default, I became a chronic mouth-breather.
OK. I was quiet, usually characterized as a dreamer
and by teachers who paid attention, an underachiever.
Since I wasnt a behavior problem, what would now probably
be diagnosed as ADD was never noticed. I tested well,
but in a noisy classroom, I had the attention span of a gnat, unless
I could focus on one thing at a time. Two things I was great at:
reading books or watching TV. If I was on my own playing with a
friend, I was fine, but slumber parties were a disaster: all my
high-pitched peers in a room together talking at once were absolutely
overwhelming. I viewed these rites of passage with dread, as I knew
I didnt fit in, and my involuntary snoring was something humiliating
I would be teased about later on. And I was always tired, so Id
be the first to fall asleep.
The first recollection
I had of sneaking food would have been around the age of 10. Maybe
its just that I was embarrassed to be caught at that age:
I think it probably started earlier, but was written off as just
being a kid. I was always hungry, and was getting chubby.
My parents didnt say anything about it: just implemented family
walks after dinner, or I would ride my bike while Dad jogged. It
just seemed to make me hungrier.
My first official
diet was in the summer between 6th and 7th grade. I begged Mom to
send me to Weight Watchers. Kids had been teasing me at school.
I wasnt 12 yet, so I needed a note from my doctor. I remember
the scornful faces of the other kids in my group when they heard
I only had 10 lbs to lose. They wanted to know just WHY was I there?
They had been forced to attend these humiliating meetings, by their
parents, by medical professionals. Back in the mid 80s, there
was usually only one kid at school who resembled Augustus Gloop,
which was the limit of my experience until then. There they were,
all gathered at Weight Watchers in an obese and resentful horde.
They had 40, 50, 60 lbs to lose. To this day, I hope I wasnt
smug. I do remember thinking, in my 11-year-old ignorance, If
I ever get that heavy, I would just want to die.
So Mom encouraged
me to fill in my nutritional log. She joined with me for moral support.
We went to the store together to shop for special diet food, and
I learned to count this was before points, I think they were
called exchanges back then. I got more exchanges because
as a kid, I was still growing. I checked off my boxes, and rejoiced
because I could have peanut butter on my rice cakes for breakfast
every morning. Which may be the most depressing food-related sentence
I lost 8 lbs
that summer, writing everything down, checking off boxes, exercising
faithfully. Between that and my graduation from thick glasses to
contact lenses, I was evidently unrecognizable. When I went back
to school, I was like Clark Kent, except my phone booth was a diet
center, and instead of spandex and a cape, I had ankle-zip acid
washed Guess? Jeans, Reebok hightops, and an Esprit book bag. Mom
was excited not to have to shop in the Big Girl section,
and we had gone all-out.
At my 12th
birthday in November, I got a clown sundae from Farrells,
and devoured it under the disapproving eyes of my father, who said,
Youre not going to eat that, are you? And of course,
by the time Christmas rolled around, I ate a pizza pocket or three
from the snack bar, and had gained all that weight back plus more.
Mom was still packing a nutritious lunch: carrot sticks, celery,
a sandwich on white diet bread with turkey breast and a slice of
low-cal plastic cheese (mustard only!) along with a little bag of
pretzels (lowfat!), sometimes a non-fat yogurt sweetened with aspartame
and flavored with God-knows what, and a diet cream soda. I would
say 50% of the time, into the trash it went. My peers could eat
pizza pockets with no problem, and I desperately wanted to be like
them. But metabolically, I just wasnt. At 12, this was difficult
This is around
the time I started having problems with cystic acne. I didnt
know what it was, just told dad that my ear was hurting me. I do
remember the look on his face when he peered inside my ear and recoiled.
The next thing I knew, there were needles and matches and alcohol
and pressure and pain and blood and yelling. OH the yelling! Mostly
After a few
more incidents like this, my long-suffering mother took me back
to the pediatrician. He peered into my ears with his trusty otoscope,
and said, in his German accent: I dont like this. Usually,
this is an indicator of outbreaks as a teen and young adult.
I sat sullenly through this, and as a gesture of pre-teen hostility,
refused to let him draw his trademark duck on my arm with a ballpoint
So I religiously
swabbed my ears with alcohol, and tried to avoid chocolate. The
acne continued, and worsened, and spread. And inevitably, every
summer, and sometimes in-between, I was on a diet. Slim-Fast, Weight
Watchers (multiple times), Low-fat on my own, you name it. Some
of them worked for awhile, but I would inevitably take a break and
get discouraged, and BOOM: twice as much to lose next time around.
I remember lying in my bed, listening to my stomach rumble, and
looking at the tiny pink hearts on my wallpaper in my bedroom, and
just wishing. My weight became something I prayed about, a constant
reminder that Something Was Wrong With Me.
As I got closer
to college, and gained and lost, and gained it all back plus more,
I got more discouraged. I needed to lose 40 lbs, then 50
my parents got more concerned. Bribery: promises of money, of new
clothes, of the choice to attend the private university I had fallen
in love with on my visit there they were all dangled before
me. And oh, by God, I tried. When conventional methods failed, I
tried to make myself throw up and am now thankful for the
fact that it didnt work.
I was so embarrassed
by my seeming lack of control over my body, of my appetite that
strove to thwart me, of the fact that I constantly felt like I was
starving, of my figure, which was an exaggerated hourglass that
was impossible to shop for in the junior section. It was also impossible
to walk to the bathroom in a TGI Fridays without some dudebro
at the bar trying to pick me up. Dad would walk me to the bathroom
when we went out to eat. I was 16, and I looked like a 30 year old
This is also
when the long-awaited facial breakouts started to happen. I ping-ponged
back and forth from the allergist, to the endocrinologist, to the
ear, nose, and throat doctor. I didnt get any answers, but
actually did lose some weight, due to the mass quantities of antibiotics
I was taking, both orally and topically (I constantly had stomach
acid). And then on my last checkup before college, I went to see
the same gynecologist my mother went to: an old-school gentleman,
who ordered my mother out of the room, asked if I was sexually active
(NOPE) and gruffly handed me a prescription for birth control pills,
with the instructions, Youre a lovely girl: dont
ruin your life. Then he added, as an afterthought, These
might help with your acne, too.
I coasted through
college. I was still drifting through life like a jellyfish, but
now I was away from my family and still not technically an adult,
so I had zero guidance or parameters. Luckily, I made some great
friends, and learned how to fake it. I grew up: I got a little edgy.
I threw parties, and went to more parties, and then everything just
came to a screeching halt.
I just sort
of abandoned any kind of responsibility in my life. To this day,
I couldnt tell you what happened. There wasnt any sense
of choice about it: I evidently had coasted for so long, I just
traveled straight into a brick wall. I am guessing what I was dealing
with was depression, although I didnt know that at the time,
and couldnt explain it when my parents wanted answers
WHY?!! I couldnt get enough sleep, and I stopped returning
calls. I checked out.
Back to the
endocrinologist. Back to a doctor, who was a friend of the family,
who had been briefed beforehand. Also, a psychiatrist. My parents
were frantic for any explanation. Alien abduction? Hormonal imbalance?
I had only ever been marginally present in my own life anyway, and
I look back at this entire time through a haze. There is no real
answer. I couldnt tell you if I blocked it out in the interest
of self-preservation, but that is a guess. I was in a dark place,
just drifting. I just remember the reaction of the endocrinologist
the most, when he reassured me that I was normal and there was nothing
wrong with me, and I burst into tears. He patted me on the shoulder
sympathetically, and said, I do not think the problem is you.
I think the problem is something else.
the rest of the article
to Lew's recent podcast with Mark Sisson
June 18, 2012
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