Podcast Episode #154: Special guest Mark Sisson of The Primal Blueprint

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1.  Our guest, Mark Sisson [4.43] 2.  Why launch the expert certification program [6:38] 3.  Intuitive lifestyle [14:15] 4.  More about the expert certification program [22:04] 5.  Resources available for practitioners through the program [38:14] 6.  Changes in Mark’s approach from his 80’s trainer days [44:25] 7.  Where you can find more information about the expert certification program [48:17]


Primal Blueprint Expert Certification program

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Liz Wolfe: Hey y’all! It’s me, Liz! Welcome to episode 154 of the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m flying solo today; at least, I’m without Diane, because we have a really exciting guest. Somebody I’m really excited to talk to about a new program that he has put together. What’s so exciting about this is a lot of folks have asked us many, many times about different education programs that reflect the paleo/primal/real food/anti-conventional wisdom philosophy, and this is adding another amazing option to what is a really skinny pool right now. I don’t know if that’s a thing. Skinny pool; a really shallow pool? I don’t know. I wouldn’t call it shallow. Anyway, I’m excited to talk to him.

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1. Our guest, Mark Sisson [4.43]

And that’s pretty much all I’m going to ramble on about this morning, because we’ve got our guest on the line here, and I’m really excited to delve into everything he has to say, so here we go. Our guest today on the Balanced Bites podcast is Mark Sisson, the primal pioneer behind, which is where real foodies, performance hackers, truth seekers, and the like go for information, inspiration, and to get a heads up on all the questions and issues that pop up in the primal and paleo communities. Mark always has the first swing at all the new stuff that’s going on, so it’s my go-to. The publishing arm of Mark’s company has published books you’ve probably heard of, like Death by Food Pyramid, Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals, Rich Food, Poor Food, the Hidden Plague, and of course, the 21-Day Total Body Transformation, The Primal Blueprint, the Primal Connection, and the Primal Blueprint Cookbook, among others. Mark is also the founder of Primal Con, the Primal Blueprint podcast, and the list goes on and on. He’s been on the Balanced Bites podcast before talking about the Primal Connection, and today we’re going to chat with Mark about his latest project, the Primal Blueprint Certification program. So, Mark, thank you so much for coming on the Balanced Bites podcast!

Mark Sisson: Thanks for having me back. And hey, I wanted to note; you and I duked it out on the Amazon kindle list a few weeks ago, with Eat the Yolks and Primal Connection. Wasn’t that something?

Liz Wolfe: I mean, I think the two of them together is like, you know, greater than the sum of the parts.

Mark Sisson: Absolutely. I like the way you put that. Very synergistic. And congrats on that success, because that was a huge rise up the charts for you, and for us.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, thank you. Thank you so much. It’s always good to see, well it’s always good to feel success for yourself, but even better when we’re all kind of up there together now and then.

Mark Sisson: That’s for sure.

2. Why launch the expert certification program [6:38]

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. I love it. So my first question for you is, with all you’re already doing, putting out there for the paleo and primal community. I mean, your website is, I’ve never gone to your website and typed something into the search box that didn’t come up with something that was helpful. So, why launch the Primal Blueprint Expert Certification program?

Mark Sisson: In a word, leverage. What we’re seeing right now is a lot of people who have 5, 6, 7 years experience living primally, and imparting that wisdom to their friends, maybe their clients or their patients. Doctors certainly have taken on the Primal Blueprint. A lot of personal trainers. A lot of registered dieticians who are known for the 40-year-old dogma that they’re taught in whatever program that they’re in, are now espousing the benefits of a paleo/primal/ancestral eating style. So there are a lot of people who are well positioned to take the technology that we’ve arrived at in this Primal Blueprint, not just diet, but exercise styles, and how to dial in your sleep, and sun exposure, and play, and things like that. There are a lot of people basically coming to me, going, what’s next? Is there a way that we can get certified? That we can take what we know already and maybe improve upon that?

And then, be able to build on our business, to take the diet counseling that we’re doing, and instead of being beholden to the US Food Pyramid, can we start to really, with certainty, impart the Primal Blueprint food pyramid? Or, as a personal trainer, can I take some of these concepts that you have in the Primal Blueprint exercise pyramid and incorporate those into what I already know from my other trainings. So it was really by popular demand that we created this certification program. And of course, I’ve always seen it as a way to leverage this technology because, as you know, this sort of thing doesn’t happen from a policy making point of view. It’s not like we’re going to get the schools to endorse this, or the government to suggest that we ought to all eat paleo. It’s really a one on one experience. It’s one person telling another person how they lost weight, or how they got off the medications, or how they got rid of their polycystic ovarian syndrome.

So, the ability to leverage that, personal experience, one on one, with somebody who now is certified as a Primal Blueprint certified expert, to me is very exciting. Because this is what, you know, my mission statement from day one was to allow 10 million people to understand how the body works and to cure themselves of whatever ails them.

Liz Wolfe: And I think {laughs} you have done that many times over.

Mark Sisson: Well, I don’t know that I’ve done it many times over. But I feel that that number was maybe a little bit too small as a goal, let’s put it that way. {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Dream big.

Mark Sisson: Yeah.

Liz Wolfe: Just a note; folks can find the Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid, say that 5 times fast, at, if they’re interested in that.

Mark Sisson: Yes.

Liz Wolfe: Ok, perfect. So I love what you said about providing this for folks at a time when we really kind of have a dearth of programs that are kind of oriented towards this very, I don’t want to say basic, but this ancestral framework, which just brings us back to the basics of who we are and how we evolved. I really just think folks are so hungry for more education, but they want to learn about something that rings true for them, and has actually worked for them, because I think a lot of us have failed miserably many times with the conventional advice. We know now how poorly designed the conventional wisdom really is, and I think it’s really high time we have more resources for those folks who really want to steep themselves in the primal philosophy, so this is super exciting.

Mark Sisson: Well thank you! I feel that way. And we’ve seen a number of people who have gone down that route of trying to “do the right thing”. They’ve been frustrated because their whole lives, it’s been about relying on the government or on their medical system, whether it’s their insurance program or their doctor, to provide them what they would hope would be the sort of information that would cure them, or fix them, or make them better, or have them be the happy, healthy, productive human that they want to be, and we’ve seen a tremendous amount of failure with that system. When people say, how do you get people to come over to the Primal Blueprint? Are these already southern California fit people who like stand up paddling, and just decided they want to eat more meat? No. Most people who come to the Primal Blueprint come from a sense of frustration at having failed at other modalities and technologies. And not for lack of trying. It’s not like they don’t want to do the right thing. I find people really want to do the right thing; they really want to be healthy, but they’ve just become so frustrated at the advice that they’ve been given.

So what we do within the context of the Primal Blueprint, and I think this applies to all of the paleo world and all the ancestral world, is sort of revisit what it is that manifests us on a daily basis. How is it that our bodies are rebuilding, renewing, regenerating, recreating us every minute of every day from this genetic recipe that we all have, but it’s doing so using faulty inputs up to now. We’re turning on the wrong genetic switches. We’re turning on the switches that store fat and create inflammation, and predispose us to heart disease and cancer. What we want is to identify these hidden genetic switches that will lead to an ideal body composition, and more energy, and better mood, and more productivity. All the things we say we want. There’s been no real certification program yet that has taken a really big picture look, a philosophical look, at the whole system and said, really, what is it that creates a healthy human being? It’s not a drug, necessarily, it’s not a series of surgeries, it’s not calorie counting, it’s really paying attention to how the body works, and looks at evolutionary biology for the clues, if you will, and then confirms it with what we see in modern genetic science.

So what I do with this Primal Blueprint in general, and with this certification program specifically, is we try to give people a real intuitive sense of how to make choices that will serve them toward whatever goal it is that they have. The idea isn’t that there’s a right way and a wrong way, or that’s it’s black and white, or there’s good or bad, or that this is the only way. The idea is that we are always confronted with a plethora of choices on a daily basis. Whether or not to move, whether or not to go to the gym, whether or not to go to work, how to work, where do I work, what sort of foods do I eat, how much sleep should I get? These are all choices that we make moment to moment all day long. Really, all I want for my readers at Mark’s Daily Apple, and for people who take the certification course and for people who are teaching that is to develop this real intuitive sense of how to make choices that serve you better based on what we see as the evidence, and the research, and the science behind them. Does that make sense?

3. Intuitive lifestyle [14:15]

Liz Wolfe: It does, and I love that you use the word intuitive, because that’s what I think is just the foundation of this whole lifestyle, is getting back to that intuitive, just kind of where our bodies and our genes are built to work in the best possible way that they can. And a lot of that is intuitive, and to build a program that just makes such foundational sense is just; I mean, finally, right?

Mark Sisson: Yeah, well that’s what I’m saying! And it’s really interesting how it’s been received thus far. We’ve had our first beta test go through, and they loved it, and now we have the first class, if you will, graduating class going through, and everybody is raving about it, and they’re raving about all the wonderful, sort of nuanced stuff, that they could not find in another certification course, and yet. So we went to get ACE certification, right? Because, to be approved by ACE, you have to fulfill certain obligations. And {laughs} here’s what we get back as a comment. “It’s a wonderful course. You have some amazing things here. It’s well written, it’s well designed. The tests are excellent. We can’t give you the certification because it doesn’t comply with US Department of Agriculture Food Pyramid.”

Liz Wolfe: Oh my goodness, that hurts!

Mark Sisson: So, it’s like that old Marx brothers thing; do you really want to be a member of a club that would have you as a member?

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Mark Sisson: Right?

Liz Wolfe: Yes, exactly.

Mark Sisson: And it’s almost like; I encounter this a lot in my career. Like the time I got named to the 5 worst cookbooks in the country for the year by the Center for the Research in the Public Interest. And I made a big deal of it; I issued a press release how happy I was that I had gotten listed with Ina Garten and what’s that angry guy from Great Britain?

Liz Wolfe: Uh…

Mark Sisson: The chef. Whatever, anyway. Yeah, Gordon Ramsey! So, anyway, it was one of these things that I took that, and by the way, our book sales tripled as a result of that. So I’m sort of looking at the same thing here, going, wow. If this is all there is out there in the marketplace are these sort of dogmatic training programs that just say the same thing over and over again, and are supposed to have you count calories and watch how much fat you take in, and prescribe your exercise largely with regard to aerobic activity, I don’t want any part of that! That’s the whole point to the Primal Blueprint is to take a step back and go, how can I be happy, fit, lean, productive, with the least amount of pain, suffering, sacrifice, discipline, calorie-counting, and portion control possible? You know?

So, back to the intuitive thing. What I want for you is to go through your life making choices that you feel good about, either way. And even if it’s a bad, not a bad choice, but even if it’s a choice that says, ok. I’m going to have a piece of chocolate cake because I’ve been good and it’s somebody’s birthday. I want you to be able to not beat yourself up for having done that. You know what I mean?

Liz Wolfe: Totally.

Mark Sisson: And just say, ok, this is part of who I am, this is part of my life, and I’m able to shift right back into choices that are more appropriate for my goals the next meal.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Mark Sisson: It’s that intuitive ability. It’s an empowering sense of going through life knowing that you’re making choices that serve you well, not feeling guilty about not doing something or having made a bad choice, understanding the ramifications of the decisions you make, taking responsibility. But all of that is what it takes to being a content human being in the first place.

Liz Wolfe: Completely agree. Life should be a series of informed choices. Whatever choice you’re making, as long as you understand why you’re making it. And really, that’s not the way conventional wisdom was built. I think I spent 10 years making choices because somebody else told me to. Some diet book, or some doctor guru on TV or whomever, never really knowing why I was doing that. And it shouldn’t have been surprising to me that I wasn’t seeing results.

Mark Sisson: Right. And, it shouldn’t be surprising if you said, well this isn’t fun.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} It was not fun.

Mark Sisson: No, and that’s the thing. Almost the most essentially element of the Primal Blueprint is to enjoy life. Now we come at it from a standpoint of, in order to enjoy life, the first thing I have to do is take care of my physicality so that I’m not sick, and I’m not spending every waking moment agonizing about what it is that ails me. So, certainly, your health is a critical component of that. But with people who come to the paleo movement or the Primal Blueprint and who get the diet dialed in pretty easily, and then they get all of their initial concerns out of the way; they lose the weight, they get off the medications, and all that. There is still this element of being happy.

And that’s what prompted, by the way, Primal Connection. The idea that there are other things besides diet and exercise that ought to be addressed from a perspective of what sort of choices am I making in my life that serve me better, all with the ultimate goal of enjoying life. So, I, for instance, tell people that I never take a bite of food that I don’t savor. I never eat something because I’m plugging my nose going, oh I read this is good for me, I better eat it. I’ve had many a kale salad that didn’t turn out very well, and kale is a tough thing to make right.

Liz Wolfe: Yes it is.

Mark Sisson: Shove it aside and start over again, or have something else. By the way, I found a way to make kale salads that are brilliant. But I’m just saying, just because it’s kale doesn’t mean I have to eat it. I look at this almost from a hedonistic point of view, saying, what is it that serves me, that makes me happy, that fulfills me, that gives me contentment. That may have to do with my family, it may have to do with my choice of play, my arranging my life in a way that I am able to spend some time, literally at play, as opposed to at work. Even sleep. I work on sleep. I don’t work on it, but I pay attention to it, and I do it in a way that I savor sleep. For me, it’s delicious.

Whereas, other people I know who are in similar situations but haven’t reached that intuitive point yet would say, well, wait a minute. Seriously? You’ve got work to do, Mark. Why are you getting 7.5 or 8.5 hours of sleep when you’ve still got this book that’s sitting on your desk that’s only half edited? Well, because I prioritize things, and I enjoy sleep, and I don’t enjoy busting my butt doing something that could be as easily done tomorrow rather than for the sake of, oh, I’m a hard worker and I can feel good about myself for working hard. No, I’m looking at ways to maximize the enjoyment of life.

Liz Wolfe: That’s fantastic, because I do think a lot of people think, I’ve got to be part of that hustle! I’ve got to be working sun up until sun down until the project is done. But I do think there’s something a lot to be said for building in those things that we know are so important for our health. Not just the food. The sleep, the sun, the play, the movement. All of that can only create a better finished product.

Mark Sisson: Absolutely.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

4. More about the expert certification program [22:04]

Mark Sisson: And that’s really what we do with, back to the certification program, is we drill down really deeply. And make sure the student; and by the way, just to explain it. It’s an online course. You sign up at It’s 13 modules, which sort of follow the 8 key concepts and the 5 action items outlined in the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation. But they go very, very deeply into the whys, the wherefores, and the hows. Each module ends with an exam. You have to pass the exam to go on to the next module. You have to get a 70. If you get less than a 70, you get another chance to take the exam. We want you to pass, so if you flunk the second exam, there’s an 800-number hotline that we can work with you.

But it’s all contemplated, again, to give you that confidence that you really truly, for lack of a better word, you really grock what’s going on with the Primal Blueprint, and are able to not only incorporated it into your own life, but impart that to your clients, and patients, and customers.

Liz Wolfe: So, 13 modules. And what are those modules composed of? Different resources, written, slides?

Mark Sisson: Right. Good point. So the total course is 110,000 words of written text. There are some videos in each section. A lot of them are just me giving a sort of thumbnail overview of what we’re going to be covering, and some of the key concepts and components of that module. There’s extra credit resources. We link to probably 100 different papers in each of these. These aren’t necessarily things that you have to go review and look up in order to pass the test, but they’re there in case you want to delve deeper yourself. And that’s always there as a resource for you, once you pass. We create one of the gifts from passing the course is a binder of the entire text; a significantly heavy binder. {laughs} If you will.

Liz Wolfe: Heavy binders for lunges and taking a little break.

Mark Sisson: There you go! Exactly.

Liz Wolfe: To hold different loads and move around, and all that. Well, if I could just throw a note in there. I really think, and I know your educating future and current practitioners, people that actually use these things, these concepts with their clients, and I do think it’s really important. I’ve said this before because this was the case in my certification program that I went through a few years back. No matter how great the program, and clearly the Primal Blueprint expert certification is a great program, it is always a great idea to delve into those extra resources. Even if you don’t have to to become a really great live by example great practitioner, whatever you want to call it, really delve into that extra stuff, because it’s there for a reason.

Mark Sisson: Good point. And you could become even more of an expert in certain areas. For instance. We cover ketosis, ketogenesis. The whole concept surrounding that in depth in the course. But if you really want to be an expert on ketogenesis, and ketoadaptation, we’ve got 100 resources that you could look at to go deeper and deeper and deeper. And we do that with pretty much each of the topics. That comes to mind because that was a question that somebody had asked about earlier today. Again, the more you get interested in this way of living, the more the doors open.

{laughs} My own interest in my own program started with Mark’s Daily Apple in 2006, and I made a commitment. I said, I’m going to write something every day for a year about health and fitness and diet and exercise. And at the end of the year, I will have written everything there is to know about diet, exercise, health, and fitness. And of course, all it did, once I got into it, I not only got the feedback from my readers, but I got more and more interested myself in digging deeper, and deeper, and deeper, and getting more nuanced, and figuring out how to tweak the dials and do the personal experiment. And that’s sort of what has happened with this entire industry that we’re in. Where there were only 3 or 4 blogs in the days that I started, there might be 3 or 400 good blogs, and 3 or 4,000 paleo/primal/ancestral blogs now.

It seems like a lot of them are uncovering some very interesting, very specific stuff. So, we just try to leave the student fully empowered to go into most aspects of the Primal Blueprint with the greatest amount of clarity, but if there are those little areas that you are interested in, deeper and deeper, then we certainly give you the resources within the context of the course.

Liz Wolfe: Another reason that’s so great is because, I’m sure, I’m assuming this isn’t just about food, obviously, since you’re also passionate about educating folks on movement, sleep, lifestyle factors, and whatnot. But I think as with many bloggers and practitioners in this sphere, my interests have shifted over the years. I was really into kind of low carbing for a while. Right now, my focus is on optimizing sleep. I think you’ve kind of put together the opportunity for folks to really delve into what really interests them right now, while still getting a great baseline view on everything else, and then later, as interests shift, you’ve got all those resources built in there for when that happens.

Mark Sisson: Great analysis. Exactly, yes.

Liz Wolfe: Ok, now, my assumption was that this isn’t just about food. So can you kind of give a rundown of the different places that you hit upon in the certification program?

Mark Sisson: Yeah. We certainly use food as something that you cannot overlook, and a lot of it goes into the science of food, and the science of epigenetics, and understanding how not just food but other behaviors influence whether genes are turned on or off. Tremendous amount is spent on the notion of exercise and what exercise looks like from the perspective of a person who, say, isn’t an athlete. Somebody who feels like they’ve been forced or cajoled into jogging their whole life, and yet they hate jogging. What do you do with a person like that? Well, there’s lots of insights into what opportunities or alternatives would be appropriate for somebody who can’t run but wants to walk.

We talked a lot of about the epigenetic effects of movement and movement patterns, and why it’s not; burning calories is the least of your concerns during any workout. It’s really what sorts of biochemical downstream events are taking place that are causing genes to turn on or off, and understanding the effects of those choices in the context of what you want to create for yourself. Do you want to have a long, lean body? Do you want to have a stronger, more compact body? Do you want to not do any exercise, or as little as possible, but still trend towards your ideal body composition? All of these things are possible, and that’s really, for the trainer, for the physician, for somebody who says, look, what do you want from life? What truly are your goals, because we’re not going to put everybody into the same category here. Then I, as a trainer, or a physician, or a life coach, can be armed with enough different points of view and choices for that individual to help them create a program that works for them.

We do the same thing with sleep. We spend a fair amount of time on sleep, because sleep is probably right after diet, one of these most critical elements of our lives, and so often overlooked, and so often taken for granted. So we talk a lot about what goes on for sleep, and how to craft the ideal sleeping environment, and how to assist your clients, if that’s the case, or assist your friends or your family, or yourself if your just getting certified just to prove that you know this stuff. Play. Whether it’s playing games with other people, whether it’s doing Sudoku crosswords, jumbles. Whether it’s being involved in something that gets you dirty, and the importance of exposure to microbes. Which leads into the whole gut biome thing, and what’s going on in the skin and what’s going on in the gut. It sort of all dovetails from one thing into another, into another, in a way that always comes back to the evolutionary lens.

How do my choices serve me, knowing what I know, about the recipe, the genetic recipe that exists in me, to literally want to create a strong, lean, fit, happy, healthy, productive body. And so what are those epigenetic choices I can make in the context of my family situation, my work situation, my goals, my age, my past metabolic derangements. Everybody is different. And yet, everybody’s biochemistry works the same way. It’s just the degree to which it works that differs from one individual to the next. So knowing that, we can craft for each person this unique set of guidelines within a basic template for sure, but shifting to the margins one way or the other depending on goals, current situation, and one of my favorite terms, what you can get away with.

Because some people can get away with a lot of stuff! Some people can get away with only 6 hours, 6.5 hours of sleep a night for a long time. I can’t. Some people can get away with eating grains. Even wheat, can you imagine that? {laughs} Without a substantial amount of overt damage. I can’t. It’s really part of the intuitive process here that we strive to achieve, arriving to a point where you understand yourself so much. As Ronald Reagan used to say, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Or was that Clint Eastwood? Maybe Ronald Reagan said it after Clint Eastwood said it in a movie. But anyway, even a woman’s got to know her limitations. And the point is, if you know what you’re limitations are, and what you can get away with, it just allows for a bit more leeway. Lamar Odom could play NBA basketball eating 4 pounds of candy at night. A lot of people can’t get away with that! I’m not sure that it was serving him well in the long run.

Liz Wolfe: Probably not.

Mark Sisson: But it is what it is. Some people can’t eat more than 150 grams of sugar a day without gaining weight. They just need to recognize who they are, where they’re coming from, and what their goals are, and then that’s where the Primal Blueprint sort of fits in, and says, ok. Knowing what we know about you, and knowing what we know about evolution, here’s the plan.

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, and you know, by the way I love what you said earlier, “what do you want out of life?” That’s not a question that I was ever asked by any conventional dietician or nutritionist that I saw when I was kind of in that hamster wheel of diet this, and counting calories that. So, what do you want from life? I love that. As practitioners, we should all be asking that of our clients. I think that’s an amazing question. And I think the baseline is, like you said, we have things that we know about evolution, about the human body, about the microbiome, and new information is coming out every day. And while all people are different and we have different goals, we have different ways, that may be a lifetime of poor diet, or poor lifestyle habits have manifested in our bodies. Whether that’s in inflammation or depression, different things like that. For most of us, that baseline of knowledge, that baseline of self knowledge about how the body works and how we can harness that. You talk a lot about reprogramming your genes. The ability to do that and how is really kind of the baseline, I think, for everybody, no matter what we’re trying to do.

Mark Sisson: Good point. And to that end, that’s really one of the main objectives of, not just the Primal Blueprint, but in particular the certification program, is to raise that baseline of information. And I would submit to you that, with all of the accumulation of knowledge over the past several decades, we can distill what you need to know down to a very manageable amount of information. So that you don’t need to have been a PhD student in biochemistry or anthropology to understand some of what we know now in terms of evolution and epigenetics that in a short enough period of time, i.e., what I can show you and what would probably approximate a third year college course in the certification program, enough that you understand how your body works, and you go, wow! So that’s what happens when I overeat carbohydrate, particularly glucose, and that’s what happens to insulin. Or this is what happens when I run hard every day, and even though I feel good, I’m somehow falling apart.

It’s one thing to experience that; it’s quite another to know the underlying causes of it, and then as you acknowledged early on, to be aware of the ramifications of your choices from a pure scientific point. Not just experientially but I know now from this minor course I took in anthropology, biochemistry, and human physiology and anatomy, now I know exactly why this happens when I do that. Now I know that from sitting at a desk all day, I know why my lower back hurts, I know why my hip flexors are shortened, my Achilles are shortened, and why I got an injury when I get on the treadmill as soon as I go from work to go do my workout, which I was told by my trainer I was supposed to do.

Back to intuitive. It all comes back to just understanding how your body works, and then being able to make choices that serve you better in the long run. You’re not always going to make the most appropriate choices for your goal, but as long as you trend towards making more appropriate choices than inappropriate choices, then you’re headed in the right direction.

Liz Wolfe: 80/20 maybe.

Mark Sisson: Well you know, it was sort of interesting that the 80/20 came up, and we wanted to put a little fudge factor in there for people, but it’s gotten a little bit misunderstood. The 80/20 rule basically says, you try for perfect. You shoot for perfection. You shoot for this goal that you want to stick to all the time. But you know life is going to get in the way sometimes, and you go, I want to have fun, or stay up late, or do something that you probably shouldn’t have done. So at the end of the week, as long as you wind up with an 80/20 kind of score, you’re still headed in the right direction! What it doesn’t mean is shoot for 80/20, and then wind up at 60/40, or 50/50 or something, you know.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} Fair enough. I think there’s an element of maybe mental conditioning there, where maybe you’re learning that if you kind of make one of those choices that’s maybe skewing a little bit, you know, beer here or a piece of cake, whatever it might be. But realizing that that one choice is not going to determine a million other choices. One piece of cake, you don’t have to beat yourself up for it, and then you’re done and it’s going to be 10/90% because, oh you failed and it’s over! It’s not over!

Mark Sisson: Right. You don’t lose your paleo card over that.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Mark Sisson: {laughs}

5. Resources available for practitioners through the program [38:14]

Liz Wolfe: I like it. Oh, I love that. One question I had for you, because I know this program is for laymen and practitioners alike. So you’ve covered all bases for folks. But for those who are wanting to implement this information from the Primal Blueprint expert certification program into their training practices or whatever, what kind of resources are available for those folks?

Mark Sisson: It’s a wide range of resources. First and foremost, you can call yourself a Primal Blueprint certified expert. So, on your business card, on your marketing materials. And I think that has a great deal of value for people who understand what that means. Secondly, we’ve created over this past 6 or 7 years a tremendous amount of materials. The 21-Day Total Body Transformation is a book that I wrote that’s sold hundreds of thousands of copies. It’s a great book. And it’s sort of an easy to use book that I always contemplated that a trainer or a life-coach would give to a client and say, here’s the book, you read it. It’ll only take you a night to read it. But I’m going to work you through all of these different exercises. There is something to do every day. So it’s an opportunity for a practitioner to hand a client that’s a real book that’s easy to understand, that certainly doesn’t go nearly into depth the way the certification program does, but with the guidance of the trainer or the physician’s assistant, or the RD, or the nurse, or whatever, can now charge a fee to walk a client through that and maybe over a period of two months, say look, here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to take you shopping one day, and that’s part of the program, and I learned how to do that through the expert certification program. One day, we’re going to go to a restaurant, I’m going to show you how to order anything. Not anything. Order off of any menu anywhere in the country, and not derail your progress. I’m going to come to your house one day, and we’re going to do a pantry purge. We’re going to clean out your pantry and your refrigerator. I’m going to show you the things that you can leave in, and the things we’re going to bag up and maybe put in storage, or maybe give away, or whatever.

All of these resources are available. For instance, we give you, I think 4 or 5 copies of the 21-Day Total Body Transformation as part of your graduation package, but you can then access them at a wholesale cost lower than Amazon pays for them, for instance.

Liz Wolfe: That’s impossible! {laughs}

Mark Sisson: No, seriously. Lower than we charge Amazon at a wholesale price. But we also have Primal Fuel, which is one of my meal replacement products that’s contemplated to allow people to skip a meal without worrying about whether they’re going to have to grab for a bagel or whatever. We’ve got tens of thousands of people using Primal Fuel. As a certified expert, you get wholesale on anything we sell. If you want to resell it to your customers or clients, or if you just want to buy it for yourself. So there are a lot of those sorts of things. And then we have a page where you can list yourself as a certified expert. So we have a resource page on where somebody who is looking for a trainer who is Primal Blueprint certified can go find out if there is one in their town. You can put a photograph of yourself, a little bio, so on and so forth. So a lot of resources like that that I think will add tremendous benefit to a life coach, trainer, cross fit box operator. We have physicians already signed up. A dentist already signed up; I saw that the other day. So lots of people who are incorporating this into their practice now, thinking to themselves, wow! Finally I have legitimacy to this wacky story I’ve been telling people all along about eating more fat and cutting out bread. {laughs} So there’s that too.

Liz Wolfe: So really, you’re enabling people to plug into the community, really that you’ve already built.

Mark Sisson: Yeah. For sure. That’s a good point. I say empowering, because enabling has a negative connotation. {laughs} I’m just kidding. We are empowering people to tap into the millions of people who have come to understand that maybe there’s something here with this low carb, paleo, ancestral, primal whatever you want to call it way of life, but what do I do? You know. And so, there are a lot of people who are looking for resources. In fact, we have our own one on one training that we do through Mark’s Daily Apple when people come to us, and I see that there is a huge need for people who, even after they’ve read the Paleo Solution or the Primal Blueprint, or Eat the Yolks, they go, oh that’s great! That stuff really resonates with me. I love that whole evolutionary thing. Now what do I do? Right? Some people just want to be held by the hand, and that’s fine. So this is what we’re allowing, also. The opportunity to be a Primal Blueprint certified expert, and to take your clientele and say, here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to show you how to do this, and within a few weeks of doing this, you will have the intuitive ability to make all these decisions on your own without me. And I’m going to miss you, but my goal is to get rid of you. Right?

Liz Wolfe: {laughing} That should be the goal!

Mark Sisson: Yeah!

Liz Wolfe: That should be the goal.

Mark Sisson: But to that end, I see people at the gym that I work out at who have been with the same trainer for like 6 years, you know, 3 or 4 days a week, and it’s like, seriously? You’ve still got 20 pounds to lose? You know? So my goal as a trainer, because I did my time as a personal trainer, in the 80’s, was always to get rid of my clients, and say, you know enough now to do this on your own. And if you don’t, I just don’t want to be a babysitter anymore. I’d rather move on to the next client who needs me more than you do.

6. Changes in Mark’s approach from his 80’s trainer days [44:25]

Liz Wolfe: So tell me, just for fun, from when you were a trainer in the 80s to now, what has changed most profoundly for you, in your approach?

Mark Sisson: Oh my god! I mean, I was carbohydrate based, whole-grain approached, watching the fat intake, the saturated fat intake. This is, you know, we’re going back 30 years ago now. I did know then that because I come from an over-training history myself where I damaged myself, I did know enough to not over train my clients. And we got great results doing that. And you know, it wasn’t like I was having people eat crappy food. I had them eat wholesome, whole food, but it still included grains, I have to admit, and that was the big difference for me. Getting rid of grains in my own life, and getting rid of grains with anybody that I trained. Absolutely, that was the number one thing. Do you know who Tim Noakes is?

Liz Wolfe: I can’t say that I do.

Mark Sisson: Ok, so Tim Noakes was the go-to guy in the world of carbohydrate metabolism for 35 years. He wrote a book called the Lore of Running. It was a 700-page tomb that everybody who was into exercise physiology had to read because it was state of the art in terms of carbohydrate management and glucose and glycogen and fat metabolism and everything else. But he was always big on carbohydrate loading and managing your glycogen, and once you ran out of glycogen, that was the end of the road, and so on and so forth. Well, 4 years ago, he had a life-changing moment where his father had died of type 2 diabetes, his uncle had died of type2 diabetes, and Tim himself was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. So he started reading some of my stuff, started reading some of the Loren Cordain stuff. Got into this paleo lifestyle, and literally, completely, diametrically, 180 degree changed his stance to a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb eating strategy.

Now here was a guy who led the world in advocating a high-carb diet who was willing to fall on his sword basically, and say, you know, I spent my whole life as an expert in this field, and now I’m going to go back on everything I ever said and say, whoop, maybe I had it wrong. That takes such courage! I cannot tell you what courage that takes. I so admire Tim for doing that. And he’s catching so much grief from his fellow scientists for having shifted that way. But, to me, that’s the essence of scientific progress, is when a guy who was so invested in what he had been writing and what he had been doing and what he had been preaching his whole life, and then sort of had a light bulb go on and an ah-ha moment, and said, wait a minute, no, the science does not prove what I was saying. In fact, there’s a lot of issues with what I was saying, and I’m willing to change my mind.

So, I guess that’s a long winded way of saying, I used to be in that camp. And then I shifted, and I think that’s what science and progress requires. People who are able to understand the science and understand the progress and go, wow. Boy, did we have it wrong. And now there’s this new way of doing things that not only tastes better, and feels better, and isn’t as hard to do, but actually makes you live longer and healthier. So what could be wrong with that, you know?

Liz Wolfe: I mean, truly heroic to be willing to reverse your stance after that long. I think that’s probably one of the reasons conventional wisdom is so entrenched. Because even though we have this huge body of evidence to the contrary, people cannot admit that we were wrong.

Mark Sisson: Yeah, it’s psych 101, cognitive dissonance.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Mark Sisson: You remember that?

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm. Such a limitation.

Mark Sisson: Yup.

7. Where you can find more information about the expert certification program [48:17]

Liz Wolfe: Such a bummer. Well, we’re rounding out about 45-ish minutes, and I want to make sure you get to let me know whatever the strengths of the program ,whatever your most excited about before we go. So this is your free space. Whatever you want folks to know, please go for it.

Mark Sisson: Cool. So, Primal Blueprint certified expert program. It’s at We have a number of products there, so look for the certified expert program there. You can sign up there. We have a payment program if you can’t make the original payment. It’s $795 for the course, which I think is very reasonable for what you get.

Liz Wolfe: Very much so, yes.

Mark Sisson: Yeah. It’s 13 modules as I say. In depth in each module; you have to pass an exam to move on to the next one. I think that a lot of people who are in this field and who are looking for an opportunity to make a living helping other people change their lives, this is a great opportunity to do that. And, if you’re somebody who is just interested in learning more about the Primal Blueprint, and want to sort of test your own knowledge so you can help yourself, or your family, or your friends, this is the course. There’s none other like it in the world as we speak. So highly recommend giving it a look-see, and thanks for allowing me the chance to talk about that, Liz.

Liz Wolfe: Most definitely. I’m so excited about this course, and I’m absolutely planning on taking it myself. I think the structure and the content is just going to blow people away, so I’m glad we could talk about it a little bit and let our audience know what’s going on.

Mark Sisson: Thank you.

Liz Wolfe: So, you can find me, Liz at Diane at or And of course, you can find Mark at and more info about the Primal Blueprint expert certification program at Thanks so much Mark, for coming on.

Mark Sisson: Thanks for having me Liz.

Cheers! Diane & Liz