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...Tell Me More
We can’t return to the paleolithic. We’re not cavemen. This isn’t about reenactment, and it never has been. We’re all here because we recognize the value in viewing our health, our food, our exercise, and our everyday behaviors through an evolutionary lens. The evolutionary angle is simply a helpful way to generate hypotheses, hypotheses that can then be tested and, if successful, integrated. At the very least, it’s interesting to think about what might be the “right” or “biologically appropriate” way to do something. We have the luxury of trying these things out to see if they improve our lives, so I think we probably should try them.
I’ve been thinking of some easy ways to Primalize everyday life. Basically, I think we can “get more” out of our days without really making any monumental changes to what we do or taking much more time to do it, simply by getting Primal with it. With a few subtle tweaks toward the ancestral, we can enhance everyday activities, foods, and drinks that we take for granted. Mundane stuff might suddenly become enriched. Let’s get to the list so you can learn my 12 easy ways to Primalize your everyday life:
Modern water purification processes typically remove minerals from our drinking water, particularly calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese. Coincidentally, these are all essential to human health. Before water purification was developed, most water was “hard” – full of minerals. Bad for sudsing up your body with soap, good for overall mineral intake. That’s the water our bodies “expect,” and a large part of the magnesium deficiency epidemic, I suspect, is due to removal of magnesium from our drinking water. There’s certainly considerable evidence that the hardness of water can impact a population’s health:
You could buy expensive bottled mineral water to replace the lost minerals, but I prefer adding a dash of sea salt and using trace mineral drops to remineralize my regular water. It’s cheaper that way and you have more control. Instead of adding it to each glass, it’s easier to keep a large jug with a spout in your fridge and add the mixture to the jug. For a two gallon jug of water, I add about a half teaspoon of sea salt (colored or white, your choice) and a little over a teaspoon of these trace mineral drops.
If modern water is so different from ancestral water, doesn’t that mean we should attempt to tweak the water in which we bathe, too? See the recent post for ideas on how to Primalize bathtime.
Do you really need the mirror to know what to do when you brush your teeth? I don’t, which is why I try to practice my Grok squat every time I engage in oral hygiene-related activities. Flossing, brushing, swishing – I figure I might as well work on my full squat as long as I’m just standing there. Since you (probably should) brush your teeth twice a day for a minute or two each time, that’s two to four minutes of squatting each day.
Without a reference point (like “whenever you brush your teeth”), it’s easy to forget to practice squatting. You’re not likely to just spontaneously remember to squat, especially with chairs everywhere. This way, you have a “rule” that you have to follow and there’s an end in sight.
If I could, I’d sleep outside every single night of my life. It doesn’t matter the circumstance – camping in Yosemite, falling asleep at the beach – because whenever I sleep outside, it’s the best sleep I’ve had in a long time. Is it the fresh air? The forest bathing? The natural light cycles? I don’t know. I just know it works.
Obviously, you’ll need a backyard for this, and I don’t expect you to do this every night. But – especially if you have kids or a significant other – sleeping out back can be a fun little “staycation” (told myself I’d never use that term, but it works so well for what I’m trying to convey). It’s not as good as a campsite at a national park or anything. And unless you live in a rural area, you probably won’t get much wildlife encroachment. No bears, no deer. Maybe a cat or raccoon or two. But you’re still outside, and you’re still getting fresh air and (hopefully, depending on light pollution) seeing the same stars our ancestors marveled at.
You may have missed the Great American Backyard Campout. But it’s never too late to give this a whirl.
I love walking, and I’m constantly recommending you do it as much as possible. For some odd reason, though, it’s hard to just get up and walk for the heck of it. I have the same issue; I need a destination, like a summit, a trail, a beach, or a store. I need some external reason to walk. Maybe it’s hardwired in us. Maybe walking to get places was so standard that walking for pleasure never entered the equation. I can see that.
Why a mile? A mile roundtrip isn’t all that much to walk. A half mile there, a half mile back. That’s fifteen, twenty minutes, tops. Driving will get you there quicker, but only by ten or fifteen minutes – not a whole lot. If you can spare that much time, you can walk.
To this day, I prefer sweeping to vacuuming. Now, I don’t “enjoy” sweeping, per se, but I do find it rather meditative when I have to pick something off the ground. The whisk of the broom, the physical displacement of the dust and dirt occurring before your very eyes in real time, the fact that you have to squat down to get everything into the dust pan (unless you have one of those fancy dust pans with the long handles). It all adds up to a peaceful, mobilizing experience. And yeah, vacuuming’s faster, but who likes that raging whirr of the motor? Certainly not your pets.
Besides, sweeping doesn’t take that much longer than vacuuming.
I draw the line at hand washing plates and utensils, though. Dishwasher all the way.
Egg yolks really do make everything better. They are incredible emulsifiers, helping smooth out sauces and smoothies. They taste great, providing a nice creamy mouthfeel to dishes while smoothing out any bitter tastes. They’re incredibly nutrient dense, containing ample amounts of choline, folate, vitamin E, selenium, iodine, vitamin A, healthy fats, and biotin. And raw yolks are usually very safe to eat. There’s a small, small chance of salmonella, but it’s very small (did I say “small”?).
Toss them into anything that’ll have them.
This is all about getting closer to your food, your environment, and the people for whom you care. Instead of sitting around the living room, plates on your laps, eyes trained on the TV, take your food outside. Throw down a blanket (or not) and plop down on the ground with your food and some friends. Sit around and hang out, trade stories, laugh, and share food. If you’re really adventurous (and you didn’t make soup), eat with your hands. Keep a few heads of romaine lettuce around to grab food with. It won’t take much more time than setting the table, and you’ll be able to enjoy your food and company in the (marginal) outdoors.
If you’re a bachelor(ette), call up some buddies and set up a weekly picnic-for-dinner thing. Grab a bottle of wine, pack your food, and meet up at a local park or someone’s backyard.
This is an easy one. Short bouts of stair walking have been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness and blood lipids in women. And these truly were short bouts. Week one, they walked up 199 stairs once per day for five days. This continued until week eight, where subjects were doing five 199-step ascents per day for five days. Each ascent took about two minutes. So, between two and ten minutes of walking up stairs per day was enough to improve their fitness. I see no reason the same wouldn’t occur in men. The best part about this is that they’re just stairs. You can easily take the stairs wherever possible and continue your regular workout regimen without missing a beat.
As to how to take the stairs, it depends on what effect you’re after. Going two steps at a time expends more energy per stride, but going one step at a time results in an overall higher workload. Taking two steps at a time should provide more stimulus to your musculature.
Oh, and arrive to places on time, or early. That way you won’t have to take the elevator to make your appointments. Or if you are late, get to know stair sprints!
Okay, maybe this one is slightly more disruptive to your regular routine than the other ideas, but c’mon. You’re indoors (no one can see you). You’re limited to distances spanning the interior of your domicile. If you have to go check the status of your bone broth simmering in the kitchen, get on all fours and crawl there.
Crawling is excellent for shoulder and hip mobility, core strength, and overall body control. You won’t just get better at crawling by crawling on a regular basis, you’ll also improve your overall athleticism and body awareness.
This may sound silly, but it’s really good for general overall toughening up. Have a kettlebell, dumbbell, or any other easily-graspable weight that you don’t mind carrying around with you. A big heavy sandbag that you sling over your shoulder would work, I guess, if it weren’t for all the sand dust getting everywhere.
Anyone who camps knows how nice it is to wake up with the sun, feeling 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.
Another option is to install black out shades in your bedroom timed to rise with the sun. So, you get total darkness when it matters – during sleep – but get to wake up with the natural morning light streaming into your room.
That’s it: 12 simple, basic ways to make your everyday life a little more Primal and a lot more healthful. What did I miss? How do you Primalize your daily routine?