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

giftgivingIt’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

Picture2 3I’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

Picture3 5Produce 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

Picture4 3This 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

Picture5 7While 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

Picture6 6Remember 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

Picture7 5I’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

Picture8 5

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

Picture9 4This 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

Picture11 4Anyone 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

21Day 3D BookcoverB 1 1While 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. That wake-up light looks awesome. Might have to graduate to the rumble roller too. Gotta tell Santa!

    Sparta wrote on December 14th, 2011
  2. 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. :D

    Binh Ho wrote on December 14th, 2011
    • Whoops, forgot to mention that you’re going to need a coupon code: HHVB.

      Binh Ho wrote on December 14th, 2011
  3. I wish I had read this before I gave Santa my list:(

    Ryan wrote on December 14th, 2011
  4. 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!

    Holly wrote on December 14th, 2011
  5. 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…

    Marianne wrote on December 14th, 2011
  6. 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?

    The Rahb wrote on December 15th, 2011
  7. 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

    kim wrote on December 16th, 2011
  8. how about a meat grinder?

    (i am thinking about getting one so i can sneak other cuts that Lord Hubby normally won’t eat).

    pam wrote on December 24th, 2011
  9. 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.

    p902 wrote on February 29th, 2012

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