My name is Dempsey Marks and I am a 22-year-old recent college graduate with a passion for healthy living and an addiction to endorphins.
- I was born, raised, and live in Los Angeles, California
- I graduated from Loyola Marymount University in May 2013 with a degree in English and a minor in Film and Television Studies
- I am an AFAA Certified Personal Trainer as well as a 200-Hour Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher
- I absolutely love running, and have run four half-marathons, as well as countless 5ks
- Despite my fear of open water and fish (yes, fish), I completed my first triathlon with the help of Team Challenge in September 2013 and am officially in love with the sport
- I’m also kind of addicted to hot yoga
- I have a strong passion for fitness, healthy living, and positivity
- My two favorite foods are sushi and chocolate ice cream
- I like to spend my free time hiking, traveling, reading, hanging at the beach, watching sports (especially baseball), getting massages, spending all of my money on workout clothes, and google-ing pictures of golden retriever puppies
- My goal is to help people live healthier, happier lives!
I grew up in an incredibly active family where fitness was never an obligation to me—it was a way of life. I played softball and volleyball throughout my childhood and competitively into high school.
Near the end of my senior year in high school, I started to deal with acute health problems. I woke up one night with severe stomach pain and nausea. Initially, my parents and I assumed it was a stomach bug, believing it would pass within a few days. But it didn’t. Day after day, I lived in pain. Eating aggravated the condition. So I began to cut my intake. Within a few months, I went from being an active, happy, vibrant teenager to so weak I was unable to get out of bed in the morning. As an athlete, I knew that I needed food to fuel myself. But my body rejected most food. Food had become my enemy.
I went to countless highly regarded specialists and underwent a myriad of medical tests. The summer before my freshman year of college, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis (likely from a crippling virus), a condition in which the stomach is essentially paralyzed, unable to digest most food. The stomach does not empty. Symptoms include severe nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and a feeling of fullness after eating only small portions.
The diagnosis was bittersweet. Treatment for gastroparesis is limited. I experimented with a plethora of oral medications, most of which provided little relief and massive side effects. The majority of my intake had to be liquids, which are easier to digest. Any solid food had to be low-fiber and low-fat. So essentially I was on a liquid diet, with few calories, vitamins, nutrients, and fiber.
Around this time, my father mentioned my condition to his doctor. He pointed out that my condition deteriorated after my active, athletic life in high school ended. He said exercise would help my digestive system.
I reluctantly started working out with a trainer. I always enjoyed being active but I was now so weak it was painful to engage in any type of athletic activity. But I kept at it. And it worked.Exercising with that trainer was the best thing that ever happened to me. I slowly gained strength and appetite. I was able to eat solid foods, so long as the portions were small and I chewed thoroughly.
But something else happened. I fell in love with fitness. The gym became my haven. My interest in healthy living grew. I began to attend yoga classes, take long walks, jog, and lift weights. And when I saw that our college gym was hiring students to work as personal trainers, I applied. I was the only English major among a hoard of qualified applicants, mostly athletic training majors. I was hired, became an AFAA certified personal trainer, and fell in love with helping people achieve their fitness goals.
In the middle of my freshman year, I also traveled to the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to see some of the world’s leading doctors about my stomach condition. I spent a week there, undergoing tests and meeting with specialists. At the end of the week, I received shocking news. My stomach was now emptying normally. I no longer had a paralyzed stomach. My family and I were elated. To this day, we are unsure of what exactly happened, but I attribute the improvement to my exercise regimen. Not all was perfect, however. My doctor said I still had a digestive problem—a lack of stomach elasticity and expansion. Essentially, when I drank or ate, my stomach did not expand properly, which caused pain and a feeling of early fullness. My doctor told me to avoid any medications and to treat the condition by managing my portions, eating healthy foods (including fiber), and exercising. No more experimental medicines flown in from other countries.
The rest of my college career was amazing. My stomach ailments improved, as I learned what my body could and could not tolerate. I eventually became a pescatarian, and avoided dairy when possible. I also explored other forms of fitness. My junior year, I ran my first ever half-marathon and went on to run three more, as well as countless 5ks. I experimented with lifting heavy and fell in love with squatting and deadlifting. I began taking more yoga classes and realized that yoga was not only a great way to calm the mind, but was also an amazing workout. And I taught myself how to swim (well), going from exhausting at 25 m, to swimming a mile non-stop. By the time I graduated college in May 2013, I was officially a “fitnerd.”
The journey did not stop there. Two weeks after I graduated, I joined a group called Team Challenge and raised money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America by training and competing in my first ever triathlon. I completed it in September 2013. A week later I signed up for Power Yoga Teacher Training with Core Power Yoga. Eight weeks later, I had fallen in love with hot yoga and was a 200 hour registered yoga teacher.
And that brings to me where I am now. I am in love with fitness and healthy living. I run. I practice yoga. I lift weights. I swim. I cycle. I hike. I stretch. I power walk. Fitness changed my life. I want to share my love with the world.