Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
13 Dec

10 Holiday Gifts for Your Primal Tribe

It’s holiday time, at least around here, and that means gift-giving. And since you’re reading this post, you’re likely a card-carrying Primal fanatic who would like to see as many people involved in this lifestyle as possible. If that’s the case, tailoring your gifts to the Primal lifestyle could be a great way to get people involved. For one, it requires no money on their part. They just have to be there to receive it. Second, it’s a gift, so they’ll feel obliged to at least try it on for size. And third, all of this stuff is actually pretty cool and very useful. It’s not as if you’re gifting them a variety pack of desiccated offal.

With this year’s gift post, I did something a little different than in years past – I tailored every gift to one of the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws. Eating animals? There’s a gift to make that easier. Walking? There’s a gift for that. Play? That too. It’s all there.

So, without further ado, let’s get to the gifts:

1. Eat Plants and Animals – Chef’s Choice Electric Meat Slicer

I’m not sure what I’d do without this thing. Until I got it, I made homemade jerky (which I love) using one of two methods: sawing away at a partially-frozen shoulder clod roast with a kitchen knife until my off hand went numb from holding a frozen piece of beef and my knife hand cramped up from overtraining; or getting the meat sliced at the butchers. The former method worked, but it was a labor (of love, but labor nonetheless) that led to Popeye-esque forearm development on the one arm. The latter method was much easier, but the butcher could never make the slices as thin as I wanted. Now, I have jerky all the time, because my slicer makes short work of partially-frozen hunks of animal in minutes (fully frozen beef is too much for it, however). I can also slice steaks up to an inch thick, and it’s easy to clean and use.

If lack of nutritious, affordable, on-the-go animal is holding someone back, a meat slicer will be of immense value.

2. Avoid Poisonous Things – SousVide Supreme

Produce chicken breast with a thigh’s tenderness. Turn a piece of steak that’s half gristle into a veritable filet mignon. Perfectly cook your salmon, your eggs, or even your turkey (albeit deconstructed). SousVide Supreme cooking is the gentlest around, and the low temperatures used reduce the creation of carcinogenic compounds. Even better, it’s pretty much impossible to mess up something cooked with the thing. Wow your guests and keep your body happy.

At first glance, the notion of cooking your food by wrapping it in plastic and submerging it for more than a day in hot water sounds dubious. We’re already wary of popular plastic additive and canned food liner bisphenol A, or BPA, getting into our food and interacting with our estrogen receptor sites, and with Chris Kresser recently highlighting new research showing that even “BPA-free” plastics leach xenoestrogens into food and liquid (especially when exposed to heat), anyone who’s keeping tabs on this stuff would be understandably hesitant about using a contraption whose express purpose is to combine food, hot water, and plastic. But then NomNomPaleo looked into the matter and found that viable alternatives exist (even reusable ones), and that the makers of the SousVide Supreme – the Drs. Eades – attest to the safety of their product.

3. Move Around at a Slow Pace – Altra Adam/Eve Minimalist Shoe

This is where I’d usually recommend you pick up a pair of Vibram FiveFingers (my favorite minimalist footwear), but for those whose spouses just haven’t adapted to toe-spread (and no, that’s not a Primal cracker topping) check out Altra’s minimalist shoes. I recently picked up a pair of the Adams (ladies, go for the Eves). They’ve got zero heel-drop (that means there’s no difference between the thickness of the heel and the rest of the sole, just like your bare feet), excellent traction (clambered across some rocks just the other day, in fact), good ground feel (you’ll feel the twigs, cracks, and pebbles on the ground, but they won’t hurt – good for proprioception), and they feel a lot like Vibrams without the toes. I like.

So, if you know someone who’s been looking for a comfortable minimalist shoe for all that walking they’re (supposed to be) doing, but they don’t want to wear the “toe shoes” and are not quite ready for full-on barefoot walking, the Adam/Eve is a good choice.

4. Lift Heavy Things – Cap Barbell Solid 20-Inch Dumbbell Handle

While I mostly shy away from heavy barbell training these days in favor of enjoyable bodyweight work, I have been experimenting with unilateral work using a single adjustable Olympic weight dumbbell – single arm standing overhead dumbbell presses (really taxes your core), dumbbell snatches, floor presses, suitcase carries (like a farmer’s walk, only one-sided). You can even use the thing for kettlebell-esque swings. Overall, this is a simple, dependable product with a multitude of uses. The listed product is just the one dumbbell; you’ll need to hunt down Olympic weights and sleeves. Buy the sleeves online, but before you pay to ship weights, hunt for “Olympic weights” on Craigslist. You can usually snag a good deal. And since it’s only one dumbbell, it’ll fit in your apartment and you don’t need to buy a ton of weights. Pairs of 25s, 10s, 5s, and 2.5s (pounds) should get you going.

Great for heavy lifting without the need for barbells, squat racks, or gym memberships.

5. Sprint Once in A While – 2XU Compression Tights

Remember how I mentioned in an old post that I was trying out a new recovery method – cold soaks – at the recommendation of a buddy? Well, he made another recommendation about recovery, and since the first one worked so well I figured I’d give this next one a try, too. He told me to wear 2XU compression tights (men’s, women’s) after a hard day’s training, the idea being that they improve blood flow, boost recovery, and reduce DOMS. My hard days are almost exclusively my sprint days, where I really go all out, and I’ve found that the tights improve the way I feel the day after. My legs don’t feel leaden; I can go for a hike or play a game of Ultimate without any nagging soreness. Plus, they feel good against your skin, and wearing them while lifting seems to improve my proprioceptive awareness of the position of my legs and action of my joints. The fact that they’re compressive makes me feel a bit more stable, too. That part could just be a placebo, but I like it regardless.

Great for recovering from those sprint days.

6. Get Adequate Sleep – Philips Wake-up Light

I’ve discussed the importance of light in the regulation of our circadian rhythms. I’ve even talked about sounds – “nature” sounds in particular – acting as zeitgebers, or circadian entrainers. Anyone who camps has had experiences that jibe with this research, like getting sleepy at nightfall (lack of light) and waking up at first light to the sound of wildlife (and/or crackling bacon), incredibly refreshed. You can’t replace the great outdoors, the sun above, and the birds in the trees with an appliance that fits on your bedside table, but you can give it a pretty good shot. The Wake-up Light from Phillips wakes you up by gradually increasing the intensity of the light it emits while playing nature sounds to make waking up a smooth, energizing experience.

Forget jarring alarms. A wake-up light might just be the next best thing to the sunrise.

7. Play – Ultra-Star Ultimate (Frisbee) Disc

It’s no secret that Ultimate is my game of choice. It’s fun, it’s challenging, it forces you to strategize and also think on your feet, and it’s a great way to exercise. Throughout the course of a game of Ultimate, I’ll sprint, jump, dive, run intervals, jostle for position dozens of times… and that’s just in the first half. Play is the foundation of a healthy Primal lifestyle, just as much as diet and exercise, and for my money Ultimate is the best way to get it. Even sports like basketball and soccer require baskets and goals, but with Ultimate, all you need is the disc, some open space, and a few friends. What’s more Primal and accessible than that?

Buy the disc and get a game going.

8. Get Adequate Sunlight – Lightphoria Light Therapy Pad

This won’t replace vitamin D-producing UVB rays (take vitamin D for that), but the light therapy pad can help reset one’s circadian rhythm and counteract seasonal affective disorder (SAD, often characterized by a sunlight deficiency). I’ve written about the limitations and advantages of lightboxes before, but all in all, they can be a viable option for people who truly get inadequate sunlight.

I’ve never had to deal with a severe lack of sunlight, but this light therapy pad seems to be one of the better ones around (and quite reasonable in price).

9. Avoid Stupid Mistakes – Rumble Roller

Anyone who gets down on the ground and rolls the Rumble Roller (available on Amazon, too) across a slab of their tender muscle or fascia will question my sanity – at least initially – because this thing is brutal. It’s like a foam roller (already pretty painful) that grew calcified warts and started reading (and really digging) the Marquis de Sade’s work. If you have the slightest bit of tightness in your muscles or connective tissue, the Rumble Roller will kindly highlight it for you. And yes, it hurts, but it’s ultimately doing you a favor. It’s loosening you up and smoothing out your fascia so that real trauma – the career-ending, surgery-requiring, joint-destroying kind – can be averted.

If someone you know is ready to graduate past the foam roller, go for the Rumble Roller.

10. Use Your Mind – The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation

While The Primal Blueprint would work well, too, I think the 21-Day Total Body Transformation is the best way to quickly get someone thinking about health and wellness in a totally new way. I’m always one for challenging the status quo, especially the status quo in someone’s head. Can’t let that one get stagnant.

Fantastic intro to the Primal lifestyle for anyone who wants to challenge their previously-held conclusions on health, fitness, and nutrition.

Well, that’s about it for today’s post. I think I covered the gamut quite well, but if I missed any obvious gift ideas, let everyone know in the comment section!

Full disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. Earned commissions support Mark’s Daily Apple.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I gotta say a meat slicer is great! Especially when you make up the roast from the primal blueprint cookbook. We made that and then sliced the leftovers, so yummy!

    EZ wrote on December 13th, 2011
  2. Love it Mark, great call on the shoes, tights and lightbox :)

    Grant wrote on December 13th, 2011
  3. Mail order grassfed beef!

    Abel James wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • I’m asking for some pemmican bars from US Wellness Meats…

      Dave, RN wrote on December 13th, 2011
  4. What I want is a “Grok On” apron! Merry Christmas, everyone.

    Mark Cruden wrote on December 13th, 2011
  5. I like the wake up light – that would be a sweet way to wake up – does it come with chirping birds and coffee aroma and/or bacon?

    Something I saw the other day to add to this list is Grip4orce (sp?). It’s a rubber piece that makes your barbell thicker, while reinforcing your grip strength. Much like Fat Gripz I’m guessing.

    Sweet list!

    Jeff Pickett wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • Haha, it *does* come with chirping birds!

      Sara wrote on December 13th, 2011
  6. I have and use compression tights. Love ’em. Have a foam roller — too bad the rumble roller is so pricey!

    AlyieCat wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • AlyieCat,

      Look at the smaller 12″ Rumble Roller on Amazon. I have that one and love it! I no longer use my regular size normal white foam roller. I suppose it depends on what you want to use it for, but I can roll one leg at a time, and get a good overall back roll in with this small one. Still pricey, but at least it is an option.

      Rodney wrote on December 13th, 2011
      • +1

        My quads and I have a love/hate relationship with my 12″ rumble roller. 100% worth it. My neck/back prefers the TheraCane, though…

        defrog wrote on December 11th, 2012
  7. I’ve just got exactly those compression tights (and the long sleeve matching top). They are fantastic – I also wore them on my 26 hour flight from Australia to the UK – and have never felt so good after flying long haul!

    Suz @ Paleo Australia wrote on December 13th, 2011
  8. Suz, thanks so much for the tip! I’m going to Australia from NYC and while I love being there, I always dread that long haul. I’m buying the tights and the top right away.

    Mo wrote on December 13th, 2011
  9. I have to say, we have the Phillips Wake-Up Lights, and LOVE them! I even wake up before the bird, bells, or music goes off! Being woken up gently by the light is a nice and calm way to start the day.

    Steffy wrote on December 13th, 2011
  10. I use cw-x compression tights and they make a huge difference for me. Also I HAVE the rumble roller and can’t live without it! Great list. Grok on!

    Blu wrote on December 13th, 2011
  11. I like our Philips Wake-up Light, too, with one caveat. The light ramps up slowly for 30 minutes before the time the alarm is set for, at which time it starts chirping or making some other alarm sound. If one half of a couple wakes up right away to the light, and the other doesn’t wake up until the chirping, and the latter is the one who needed to set the alarm, there may be some feathers ruffled.

    Sara wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • I’m usually the one who wakes up to the light, and my husband to the alarm. Which, works out well because we both need to leave at the same time in the morning.

      Steffy wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • I rigged up a fake wake up light with a timer and some extra christmas lights.

      My GF and I both wake up with the smallest amount of light, and so I took down the rig and invested in the philips.

      But as a test to see if it will work for you, the Christmas lights works very well.

      charlie wrote on December 16th, 2011
  12. I love these ideas! I’m really interested in the wake-up light and the light pad. Winters in Michigan are pretty dark and dreary.

    Marjorie wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • And where are you located in MIchigan if you don’t mind me asking? I’m from Grand Rapids…

      Primal Toad wrote on December 13th, 2011
  13. I hadn’t seen those Adams and Eves before. I am now VERY interested in checking out the entire Altra line of shoes! Thanks for sharing Mark! P.S. Love how this list is organized. 😉

    gilliebean wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • I got a pair of adam’s in sept. and have worn them nearly every day since.
      They really are a great alternative to V5F. Love them.

      desert tomte wrote on December 15th, 2011
  14. I need a different minimalist shoe. I love my vibrams but I just don’t feel like wearing them in the Winter here in Chicago and Grand Rapids, MI.

    I mean, I wore them yesterday to do pull-ups on some trees but it was in the mid 40’s… When its in the 20s and below my feet will freeze!

    That meat slicer looks kick ass too!

    Primal Toad wrote on December 13th, 2011
  15. Rumbler Roller has great reviews at Amazon. Might have to ask for that from Santa!

    Marybeth wrote on December 13th, 2011
  16. This is such a good list!

    I’ve been thinking about adding light therapy to my winter routine, and I love the looks of the Lightphoria pad. I’m glad to know MDA approves!

    Anne wrote on December 13th, 2011
  17. I have been enjoying Merrell Barefoot Pace Gloves for minimalist footwear.

    And, yes, cooking food in a bag for 24 hrs. seems weird…

    Crunchy Pickle wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • I would worry about potential toxicity of cooking that long in plastic too… hopefully the temps are not high enough to do anything.

      Dave, RN wrote on December 13th, 2011
  18. I found a discount for the Altras on Barefoot Runners Society:

    There is a link to the company’s website, and when you add the Adams or Eves to your cart, the are discounted to $75! No shipping charges either.
    I just bought myself an early Christmas gift :)

    Pretty psyched, as I have tried a few different minimalist shoes at the shoe store that haven’t been comfortable (Merrell, New Balance). I like the Nike Frees, but there is a definite heel lift.

    Amy wrote on December 13th, 2011
  19. Does anyone know if the Adam/Eve’s perform well on rocky surfaces?

    I love my vibrams, but I’ve been looking for an alternative for that particular activity.

    Becca wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • I’ve worn my Adam’s hiking over rocky trails with no problem. You can definately feel the rocks your feet are protected.

      desert tomte wrote on December 15th, 2011
  20. Those 2XU compression tights are the real deal. I love them – they feel good and look good. Great gift suggestion – especially for a gift to oneself :-)

    Susan Alexander wrote on December 13th, 2011
  21. Oh yes, and your book. It’s the real deal too. It’s going out as gifts to quite a few folks this year. Hopefully it will enlighten them, or at least answer their many questions about what and why I do what I do. A very well done book – great text and photos as well. :-)

    Susan Alexander wrote on December 13th, 2011
  22. I’m interested in the light and shoes, very nice.

    Arty wrote on December 13th, 2011
  23. You had me with the barbell until I read this: Warning: This product contains one or more phthalate chemicals known to the state of California to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm. Consumer may return the product for a full refund, including shipping cost for both receipt and return of the product within 15 days of his or her receipt. ….

    Nicole wrote on December 13th, 2011
  24. I would love a meat slicer. What a cool and unique idea.

    Kate wrote on December 13th, 2011
  25. I can’t believe you actually have that meat slicer in your home. Hilarious. I’ve never heard of those shoes, but they may be a good idea for me instead of getting Vibrams right away. I like the leggings idea too, thanks!

    Meagan wrote on December 13th, 2011
  26. The Wake up Light looks awesome, I might have to get myself one at some point.

    raney wrote on December 13th, 2011
  27. oh no no no! :-) after playing ultimate for years, discraft discs are one of my biggest peeves. i can’t stand them. 5 Ultimate and VC Ultimate both discs for only $10 that are commonly used in USA Ultimate tournaments.

    April wrote on December 13th, 2011
  28. Do the zero drops have less foot funk than the vibrams while still feeling barefoot? That would be amazing.

    Pat wrote on December 13th, 2011
  29. Anyone use the wakeup light before? I’m looking to buy one.

    Erik wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • We have 2 of them! They are a fantastic way to wake up. Instead of having a really loud buzzer go off in the morning, which makes your hear race, these lights slowly wake you up. I definitely wake up with more energy, and in a much better mood!!!

      Steffy wrote on December 14th, 2011
      • Sorry, Heart race!

        Steffy wrote on December 14th, 2011
      • Aaah, good! I already have the Phillips GoLite blu due to my stubborn delayed sleep phase and my SAD. -.- It sounds like the wakeup light might be a worthy investment too…

        Audrey H wrote on December 14th, 2011
  30. Cool stuff! Happy holidays everyone! Enjoy giving and receiving!

    Paul Alexander wrote on December 13th, 2011
  31. I have to add one more to the list and that’s a water filter.

    Water quality standards have gone downhill in the past decade. You will be shocked to know whats is in your faucet water. I personally use this water filter at home. I’m not only a food blogger but I have a degree as an Environmental Engineering and I have seen some terrifying studies.

    Hannah Willette wrote on December 13th, 2011
  32. great ideas! I like the Grok On! apron idea

    PaleoDentist wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • I’ll add to the interested voices here -love the apron idea!!!

      Jen wrote on December 14th, 2011
  33. I think I’ll buy myself some minimalist shoes after Christmas. I’ve searched every shoe store in the area and nothing. The sales people don’t even know what I’m talking about (sigh) I’ll have to take a trip….I’d go online but my shoe size tends to vary, I have to try them on.
    That slicer would be so cool. :-)
    great list.

    bbuddha wrote on December 13th, 2011
  34. the rumble roller is nice, but i use a hard PVC pipe from home depot. cost $10 for a long piece that i got them to cut in two.

    bee wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • I tried the PVC pipe and it pales in comparison to the Rumble Roller. The RR is pricey but worth it. It’s made with antimicrobial materials so it doesn’t get funky if you get sweat on it, it’s perfectly shaped for loosening up deep tissues and it’s durable. It’s as effective as a deep tissue massage from a massage therapist- at least for me it is- and I can use it every day. I’d go broke if I did daily sessions at the massage therapist so $45 isn’t really all that expensive when you consider how effective it is for the price… in my experience anyway.

      Trav wrote on August 10th, 2012
  35. Couldn’t help myself, didn’t even make it to the bottom of the list before I was clicking the buy button on amazon for the wake up lamp. It is hard to roll my butt out of bed in the winter.

    Ancient wrote on December 13th, 2011
  36. I had a GREAT hand powered slicer for years — gave it away to a niece and sincerely regret it today! Worked better than any electric slicer out there!

    Been eyeing a Sous Vide for several months now — with safe bags I may have to reconsider.

    Diane wrote on December 13th, 2011
  37. You would put a Frisbee up there Mark!

    Emily Mekeel wrote on December 13th, 2011
  38. Does this meat slicer break down for dishwasher cleaning? I bought a different one, and sadly, it had to be hand-washed, and didn’t break down very well for cleaning (only to be discovered AFTER purchase).

    I was eyeing the stainless steel ones from Amazon, but there’s no way of knowing if they break down for easy cleaning, because no user comments were left about that subject.

    Years ago, my M-I-L had one that would fold up for easy storage, and break down to go in the dishwasher (all but the actual motor). Unfortunately, both she and the slicer died, and I haven’t been able to locate another–maybe they quit making it?

    My point is if you’re going to get a slicer, know how you’re going to get it clean for the next use–food poisoning and cross-contamination are no joke.

    Wenchypoo wrote on December 14th, 2011
  39. The ALTRA Adams are indeed comfortable and zero-drop but the shoes from Stem Footwear are even more comfortable. (I’ve given all my other shoes to Goodwill and use only the Stem shoes.)

    James Howell wrote on December 14th, 2011

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