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

12 Easy Ways to Primalize Your Everyday Life

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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:

1. Add a dash of sea salt and mineral drops to your drinking water.

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.

2. Take better baths.

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.

3. Work on mobility during routine oral hygiene.

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.

4. Camp/sleep out in the backyard.

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.

5. If you can get to where you’re going and back in a mile or less, walk.

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.

6. Sweep instead of vacuuming.

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.

7. Making a sauce? Blending a smoothie? Add egg yolks.

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.

8. Eat dinner on the ground, outside, and/or with your hands.

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.

9. Take the stairs.

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!

10. Crawl around your home.

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.

11. Keep a weight at your office or around your house, and carry it around with you.

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.

12. Use a sunrise alarm clock or black out shades timed to rise with the sun.

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?

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 first paragraph needs to be on the “Start Here” page – somewhere near the top!

    b2curious wrote on July 10th, 2013
  2. this is wonderfully amusing – I was just crawling around under our house looking for a possible leak in our water system, which is untreated and delicious well water. I walk every day at least 3 miles, almost always take the stairs. Most of the other things checked off as well. I haven’t slept outside in about a year, though, so I guess it’s time. Always love to do that, especially by a river.

    Sandra Neary wrote on July 10th, 2013
  3. …ah yes ‘n always sweep well before crawlin’ over to check your bone broth…???…’n I prefer to carry an old brick around in the grocery store myself…just thought I’d put in my two cents worth…Sissypoo, I just looove you…cute :)

    Jeannie_5 wrote on July 10th, 2013
  4. I eat an egg yolk every morning, usually blended up in my coffee with coconut oil (don’t judge me, try it, it’s delicious blended). My question is, what’s a good use of all those yolks? Sometimes I put some on my face as a mask, other times use it as a binder for burgers…but i always end up with more than I would like.

    thoughts?

    melissa wrote on July 10th, 2013
    • Primal custard! Or lemon curd, if you’re into that sort of thing. See paleomg.com, her 4th of July lemon tart is the business.

      Cledbo wrote on July 10th, 2013
  5. I thought this blog was great at making us think outside the box. Personally, crawling on the floor is no big deal to me (I have 4 kids and a dog), camping in the back yard is fun even if not all that restful (being in the city is loud) and really eating outside with your hands… it’s called a picnic. I never thought about doing squats while brushing my teeth but I will trying that one tonight.

    Betsy wrote on July 10th, 2013
  6. I have a question. I spend about 7 months in Australia per year (October through to end of April). Then about 5 months in Canada mostly in Vancouver from May until end of September. Hence I never experience shorter days. I mean this is my plan. I don’t like winters and I’m affected by lack of sunlight. However Vancouver has extremely long days in Summer. It’s light well past 10pm and at 4:30am around the longest days and it takes a while before the length of days is reasonable. On nice sunny days it’s hard to sleep enough. Is this where you recommend that at this time of the year, one should not sleep more than 6 or 6.5 hours. I seem to need more than this myself and try to get to bed by 9:45pm and to sleep until 5:45am but I even sometimes need more or a least a couple of times per week.
    I can imagine countries like Finland or Sweden would also have similar problems in Summer and winter with vastly different daylight amounts. What would be your recommendations for this.

    Anne wrote on July 10th, 2013
  7. When I crawl up the stairs at the end of the day, does that count as two?

    Melanie Smithson wrote on July 10th, 2013
  8. Well… as to #3, that time during teeth-brushing (usually about a 3-4 minutes venture, twice a day) was already occupied doing Kegels. But the concept is the same.

    I do my squats in the office when I’m on a boring conference call. I stand up and sit down in my chair (using legs only) over and over and over. Good thing nobody else can see me… but if someone should happen past, it would appear to them that I was merely standing up from the chair, or taking a seat. :-)

    Now as to the crawling… nope. But what I do instead is crank some high-energy tunes, and dance around the house. MUCH happier than crawling (which feels kinda contrived to me). For me, “Play” = “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching”.

    I work on the 12th floor, never use the elevator.

    JBnJ wrote on July 10th, 2013
  9. The bathing in Red Sea salt water sounds great but where do we buy that? I just ordered the mineral drops from Amazon for my water bottle. I plan to sleep outside tonite in our back yard. Maybe go for a long walk after a primal dinner.

    David Williams wrote on July 10th, 2013
  10. I love to sweep when I’m on the phone for work (from home). I am actually more-focused when I sweep then when I am sitting at my desk. I’m going to have to add #11. Lots of stairs in my house.

    molly wrote on July 10th, 2013
  11. All I add in my RO water is himalayan sea salt. I wouldn’t think you wouldn’t need to add minerals after that.

    Troy wrote on July 10th, 2013
  12. You know what else is high in magnesium? Espresso. Just saying. ;)

    Amy wrote on July 10th, 2013
    • Thank you. *runs to espresso machine for some coffee bean extract*

      Candy wrote on July 15th, 2013
  13. Mark thanks for this! I have always wanted to camp out in my own backyard but worried that the wife would think I’m weird. I guess I’m not. Keep the good stuff coming.

    Thanks!

    paleodog wrote on July 10th, 2013
  14. I’m only a few weeks into Primal and I love these tips. Thinking about adding another important one, I would say we should create more… Grok made cave paintings, his own tools and ‘clothes’ and cooked his dinner on his self-made fire. It feels so good to create a meal, make your own furniture or an outfit on your sewing machine. We’re just so used to consuming and I think it kills our creative spark and I’m sure a few brain cells as well ;)

    Wendy wrote on July 10th, 2013
  15. Here’s a new one for you: wear natural fibers, and sleep on a futon. I’m pretty sure Grok didn’t have polyester, nylon, or spandex (how did he get by?!?) since they are synthetic fibers. Any Tai Chi master (or kung fu) will tell you that synthetic fibers interrupt the flow of your chi – around your body, which is your electronic magnetic energy and in the more woo-woo circles they call your ‘aura’ (but I wouldn’t know anything about that). If you look at the covers of those Tai Chi magazines at Whole Foods – they are dressed in silk. White…blue…black… silk! My own teacher says it goes like this: silk is best, then cotton, then wool and then hemp. Bamboo fibers are in their somewhere too. We really are electromagnetic beings, and personally, I barely wear any synthetics. This is also a great argument for walking barefoot – or in moccasins! And…makes me wish someone would invent a natural-fibers condom…it’s coming. (bad pun, sorry!)

    Donovan wrote on July 10th, 2013
  16. Excellent overall suggestions. Doing egg yolks in smoothies for years. I personally do not need to add salt to my water (to which I add Liquid Mineral Complex) unless sweating profusely throughout the day and I need to drink 1.5 gallons or more. I like to salt (Redmond’s sea salt) my food for taste and to stimulate digestion, and it is enough under normal circumstances in my opinion.

    David Marino wrote on July 10th, 2013
  17. I had to laugh (though was 100% not surprised) because about three weeks ago I stuck two post-its up in my bathroom: 10 Pushups, 10 Squats. So every time I use my bathroom (yes, even just to drop off a new purchase!) I get a micro-workout of sorts.
    I should add some similar post it’s at work, come to think of it.

    Most of my favourite foods are “hands on” too – lamb chops, chicken wings, paleo cupcakes ;-)

    Cledbo wrote on July 10th, 2013
  18. I have to respectfully disagree with #3 – not because using brushing time for squats, etc., isn’t a good use of the time, but because I question whether people should be brushing their teeth twice a day at all.

    Eating primally for the last couple years, I only brush after a high-carb day (which still happens occasionally). My dentist has looked at my teeth the last couple checkups and basically said, “Why are you here? Your teeth look good, and there is no plaque buildup whatsoever.”

    Brushing with abrasives (and chemicals) is, IMHO, highly non-primal. I suggest people who are eating well don’t need to be brushing, and it may in fact be counter-productive to good oral hygiene
    .
    (And, for what it’s worth, my wife insists I don’t have bad breath.)

    John wrote on July 10th, 2013
  19. How awesome is this post? I said it before and I’ll say it again – Marks posts and all the readers comments are the best! Definitely the highlight of my life.

    For the crawling I use to hate it because I would always end up springing up to standing position. The trick is to crawl a few meters and then stop into a comfortable (cool looking) squat stance. When you get bored, continue crawling. So it goes like this:

    squat > crawl > squat > crawl

    Sam wrote on July 10th, 2013
  20. Ugh, I HATE when people drive to places that are less than a mile away, TALK ABOUT LAZY! And I also hate people who try and ALWAYS find the CLOSEST parking spot to the store. Seriously? They will drive around for 10 minutes trying to find the closest, and even wait for people to leave. JUST PARK OVER THERE AND WALK! That’s what your legs are for… Or I mean, you could crawl, lol ;)

    GiGi wrote on July 10th, 2013
    • Yeah, I also hate the whole parking thing. Good job, saved yourself 30 feet of walking. However, I live in a place with no sidewalks and no crosswalks. The only people who walk are the poor people who can’t afford a car, and you can see them lane hopping all the time, trying to get across busy highways. Think about most of our bus and transport systems–the perception in America is that only poor or crazy people ride the bus. There are some great green cities in the U.S. that are known for being bike and pedestrian friendly, and having great public transport, but the majority of our nation is only navigable by car. Just read a great book called Asphalt Nation–about how the car took over America and what we can do to take it back. I used to live in Germany where you could get anywhere in a quick minute by bus, train or street car. Miss it a lot.

      Bev wrote on July 11th, 2013
  21. Crawling is a good idea. I do it a little differently. I try to get up on the couch using only my hands and upper body. No leg use whatsoever. It is very satisfying to sit on the couch if I worked for it!

    JKJ wrote on July 11th, 2013
  22. The opening was inspired and a couple of ideas are great… but many other a bit kooky. Nonetheless, thank you for sharing.

    Txomin wrote on July 11th, 2013
  23. Great advice:) I have those mineral drops, but know that there have been some concerns about it containing lead, cadmium and arsenic. It would be interesting to know Marks opinion on that..?

    Karianne wrote on July 11th, 2013
  24. Thanks so much for the idea of doing squats while brushing my teeth! I’m currently sidelined from a lot of my regular exercise because of a fractured left clavicle, but squats I can do! Any other shoulder-friendly suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Kay wrote on July 11th, 2013
  25. When sitting down and getting up from a chair do it one leg. Alternate legs. Helps build leg strength. Can also help if your learning to do pistols (single leg squats)

    Greg wrote on July 11th, 2013
    • *use one leg

      Greg wrote on July 11th, 2013
  26. I often walk to the park with my 4 year old while he rides is scooter. I like to go by myself too sometimes, when I’m there I like to do a few pull-ups/vertical crunches on this one play structure. It has an over hanging bar to grab onto and a spinning “8” shaped thing that comes down to the ground. I can put my feet on the middle part and pull myself up. I usually do a 2-3 sets of 10 then I’ll just slowly walk around the park to catch my breath then I usually go home after that.

    Paige wrote on July 11th, 2013
  27. Love ya work, love ya soul Mark….it always makes me smile.

    I love this journey, the tips and advice….keep at this awesome thing you do!!!

    Now if only I could convince my gorgeous darlin’ wife……….

    X

    Dave Groves wrote on July 11th, 2013
  28. Interesting ideas. Oh, and I eat with my hands a lot of the time. :)

    Chris wrote on July 11th, 2013
  29. I feel like I’m missing something…why would we want iron in our drinking water? And isn’t it dangerous to put uncooked egg yolks in a smoothie??

    Sarah wrote on July 11th, 2013
  30. I’m really lucky. I live on a boat so wake up next to nature every day, watching the fish/swans/ducks/kingfishers/random assortment of wildlife. Boat living means you have to think about the things other people have piped or cabled into their homes, so I walk to fill up 5 litre water bottles every day (need to think about the mineralisation though, interesting point) and use bottled gas – which has to be carried on board. For heating I burn solid fuel, so move coal sacks and chop wood during the winter months. I don’t have TV and I’ve rigged up a pull-up bar in my front deck, my steel ballast is used for regular heavy lifting. There’s no space for a dishwasher (I hear you all) and I managed without a washing machine for a year or so (try handwashing all your clothes, very primal!!). As for the sweeping/vacuuming debate – I have to do both…plus mopping, plus washing down the outside of the boat regularly too… I don’t have window coverings in my roof lights so am pretty much up at dawn – works great in the summer, makes me late for work in the winter so have to use an alarm – and whoever mentioned that bright disc in the sky at night is soooo correct, can wake me up a bit unexpectedly sometimes. Not sure I want to be any more primal, but guaranteed you’ll find me squatting while brushing tonight :)

    Ali wrote on July 12th, 2013
  31. I enjoyed this thread. And Mark, your articles are always so well-written they are a pleasure to read. I will try the squatting while brushing my teeth. And the stairs, on days when my knees don’t bother me. And I think tenting in the backyard is a good idea. Also, I try to slip off my sandals when I’m outside to get my feet to touch the earth. Supposed to be good for you. Something about magnetic forces?

    Marlene wrote on July 12th, 2013
  32. Crawl around the home. Love it!

    Martyn wrote on July 12th, 2013
  33. In regards to crawling, I get down on the ground and play with my 15 lb dog. It’s not actually that much of a workout (she’s so small!), but both of us greatly enjoy it.

    Katie wrote on July 13th, 2013
  34. I think there’s something missing: what about just simply walking barefoot (and I do mean barefoot, not with minimalist shoes) whenever you can? I’ve been completely barefoot for more than 10 days in a row now and love it more every minute! Yes, I even went to work in the office barefoot (my colleagues already think I’m crazy because I don’t eat gluten or sugar, but do eat fat *gasp*). I was always very stressed, had 1000 thoughts jumping around in my head, but since I walk barefoot it’s like I can live more “in the moment”. I enjoy it so much that I can concentrate on what I feel, instead of “living in my head” the whole time. Grounding, earthing, call it what you want, I just think it’s relaxing. And very good for foot and ankle mobility.

    Candy wrote on July 15th, 2013
  35. Learn about harvesting native plants in your area. Can’t really get more primal. A wonderful way to get out in the sun, get some exercise, healthy foods and learn about your environment. We live in the southwest at the moment and my kids and I just harvested mesquite pods which we’ll use to make mesquite flour pancakes. (yes a legume but a pretty harmless one to eat occasionally). Later we’ll harvest prickly pear fruit to make the syrup. We just looked up online harvest guides to know what to do.

    Kate wrote on July 18th, 2013
  36. Thanks for this excellent post. It will really help a lot of people.Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful! I’m still waiting for some interesting thoughts from your side in your next post thanks!

    Simon wrote on February 6th, 2014

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