Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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December 13, 2011

10 Holiday Gifts for Your Primal Tribe

By Mark Sisson
76 Comments

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.

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76 Comments on "10 Holiday Gifts for Your Primal Tribe"

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EZ
4 years 9 months ago

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!

Grant
4 years 9 months ago

Love it Mark, great call on the shoes, tights and lightbox 🙂

Abel James
4 years 9 months ago

Mail order grassfed beef!

Dave, RN
4 years 9 months ago

I’m asking for some pemmican bars from US Wellness Meats…

Mark Cruden
Mark Cruden
4 years 9 months ago

What I want is a “Grok On” apron! Merry Christmas, everyone.

Jeff Pickett
4 years 9 months ago

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!

Sara
Sara
4 years 9 months ago

Haha, it *does* come with chirping birds!

AlyieCat
AlyieCat
4 years 9 months ago

I have and use compression tights. Love ’em. Have a foam roller — too bad the rumble roller is so pricey!

Rodney
Rodney
4 years 9 months ago

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.

defrog
defrog
3 years 9 months ago

+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…

Suz @ Paleo Australia
4 years 9 months ago

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!

Mo
Mo
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Steffy
Steffy
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Blu
Blu
4 years 9 months ago

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!

Sara
Sara
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Steffy
Steffy
4 years 9 months ago

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.

charlie
charlie
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Marjorie
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Primal Toad
4 years 9 months ago

And where are you located in MIchigan if you don’t mind me asking? I’m from Grand Rapids…

gilliebean
4 years 9 months ago

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. 😉

desert tomte
desert tomte
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Primal Toad
4 years 9 months ago

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!

Dave, RN
Dave, RN
4 years 9 months ago

When I wear my minimalist shoes and its’ cold, I wrap them in a heating pad for awhile first. Makes them all warm.

Jacob
Jacob
4 years 9 months ago
Marybeth
Marybeth
4 years 9 months ago

Rumbler Roller has great reviews at Amazon. Might have to ask for that from Santa!

Anne
4 years 9 months ago

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!

Crunchy Pickle
4 years 9 months ago

I have been enjoying Merrell Barefoot Pace Gloves for minimalist footwear.

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

Dave, RN
Dave, RN
4 years 9 months ago

I would worry about potential toxicity of cooking that long in plastic too… hopefully the temps are not high enough to do anything.

Amy
Amy
4 years 9 months ago

I found a discount for the Altras on Barefoot Runners Society: http://barefootrunners.org/forum-topic/try-altra-adam-or-eve-25

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.

Becca
4 years 9 months ago

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.

desert tomte
desert tomte
4 years 9 months ago

I’ve worn my Adam’s hiking over rocky trails with no problem. You can definately feel the rocks your feet are protected.

Susan Alexander
4 years 9 months ago

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
4 years 9 months ago

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. 🙂

Arty
Arty
4 years 9 months ago

I’m interested in the light and shoes, very nice.

Nicole
Nicole
4 years 9 months ago

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. ….
HMMM???????

Kate
4 years 9 months ago

I would love a meat slicer. What a cool and unique idea.

Meagan
4 years 9 months ago

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!

raney
raney
4 years 9 months ago

The Wake up Light looks awesome, I might have to get myself one at some point.

April
April
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Pat
Pat
4 years 9 months ago

Do the zero drops have less foot funk than the vibrams while still feeling barefoot? That would be amazing.

Erik
4 years 9 months ago

Anyone use the wakeup light before? I’m looking to buy one.

Steffy
Steffy
4 years 9 months ago

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
Steffy
4 years 9 months ago

Sorry, Heart race!

Audrey H
Audrey H
4 years 9 months ago

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…

Paul Alexander
4 years 9 months ago

Cool stuff! Happy holidays everyone! Enjoy giving and receiving!

Hannah Willette
4 years 9 months ago

I have to add one more to the list and that’s a water filter.

http://www.aquasana.com/

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.

PaleoDentist
4 years 9 months ago

great ideas! I like the Grok On! apron idea
Apron!!!!!!

Jen
Jen
4 years 9 months ago

I’ll add to the interested voices here -love the apron idea!!!

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[…] Original post by Mark Sisson […]

bbuddha
bbuddha
4 years 9 months ago

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.

bee
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Trav
Trav
4 years 1 month ago
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… Read more »
Ancient
Ancient
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Diane
Diane
4 years 9 months ago

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.

Emily Mekeel
Emily Mekeel
4 years 9 months ago

You would put a Frisbee up there Mark!

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
4 years 9 months ago
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… Read more »
James Howell
James Howell
4 years 9 months ago

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.)

Conrad
4 years 9 months ago

I love you you have the Official Disc of Ultimate. Having played all through college and currently coaching a college team, I supremely appreciate that!!! 🙂

Sparta
4 years 9 months ago

That wake-up light looks awesome. Might have to graduate to the rumble roller too. Gotta tell Santa!

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[…] 10 Holiday Gifts for Your Primal Tribe […]

Binh Ho
Binh Ho
4 years 9 months ago

Vivobarefoot’s got a 30% off sale going on until the 16th, if any of you are interested in more minimalist zero-drop footwear options. 😀

Binh Ho
Binh Ho
4 years 9 months ago

Whoops, forgot to mention that you’re going to need a coupon code: HHVB.

Ryan
Ryan
4 years 9 months ago

I wish I had read this before I gave Santa my list:(

Holly
Holly
4 years 9 months ago

Thx for this post! I have that meat slicer and use it daily-it’s awesome! I also have a Philips light, however, it’s the goLITE, which TOTALLY works to improve sleep quality. I’ll have to check out that wake-up light too! I second the suggestion for the Merrell Barefoot Pace Gloves…love love love them! Happy Holidays!

Marianne
Marianne
4 years 9 months ago

After approx. nine months of being primal, I’m fitter & healthier than my 26 year old son! No question that he’s getting the 21 Day Transformation for Xmas. I’d give a copy to everyone in the family, but there are still some resisters out there…

trackback
4 years 9 months ago

[…] Link – 10 Holiday Gifts For Your Holiday Tribe – Mark’s Daily Apple Melissa and Ann doing ring rows Mike […]

The Rahb
The Rahb
4 years 9 months ago

I wonder if my mandolin slicer would work for the beef jerky. I’ve been wanting to try my own jerky for a while. Anyone tried it with a mandolin before?

kim
4 years 9 months ago

Great list, I’m pleased to see a number of these items are available in the UK.

I really like the idea of the wake up light.

Kim

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