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

16 Things You Should Have Never Stopped Doing

Don't Stop!As children, we live closer to our instincts. Yes, there’s the humorous and rather unfortunate side to this – like the time you ate an entire bag of Twizzlers and threw up all over your great-aunt’s carpet. In addition to the plethora of bad decisions (as if adults don’t make those too), however, there’s the extravagant daring and that amazing, irrepressible exuberance.

As adults, we might know better than to gorge on dye #40, but we’re tripped up by other things. We become distanced, detached from our instincts. The responsibilities, the schedule, the expectations surrounding our culture’s take on maturity can cast us out of the land of exuberance. It’s like we get gradually diverted to a boring Interstate stretch after traveling the scenic route. The road is efficient, utilitarian and might have nicer rest stops, but it often feels like a major letdown. What does it take to find our way back to the panoramas? What are the things we never should’ve stopped doing in the first place? I hope you add your own to the list. Let me throw out a few I’ve been thinking of today.

Climb – anything.

In addition to the workout, there’s something about the vantage point of height. Sitting in a tree, for example, you see the world and your problems differently for a short time. Once you’re on solid ground again, reality settles back in, but you’re different for having lived that time in a novel perspective. Find a favorite tree, a place you can sit on your roof, or build yourself a treehouse. Yes, it’s for you. Why not?

Jump in puddles (or snow mounds).

We adults get too fussy about weather. Our idea of inclement weather increasingly expands until we talk ourselves out of enjoying the vast majority of days. Invest in some real rain gear like you had when you were young (or just write off the need to stay dry altogether). Get out there and relish the bad weather like the amusement park it used to seem like. The novelty only wore off when we lost our imagination to make it so.

Play in the sand, dirt, mud, creek, lake, etc.

In other words, make a disgusting mess of yourself. Indulge/immerse for the all-important microbes, the sensory feast, and the subversive act of it. (It’s the ultimate snub to society’s confines.) Why do we take such pride, for example, in driving around a mud encrusted SUV? The real adventure is getting yourself caked in muck.

Eat food right off the plant/out of the dirt.

Speaking of soil… If children today even demonstrate so much as a musing to pick an apple off a tree, five parents rush over panicked yelling “Let me wash that for you!” Those of you who grew up in the 70s or earlier were probably running the neighborhood and your parents had no idea what you were up to. Left to their own devices, you probably ate any number of produce items pulled directly from the bushes, trees, and dirt (as well as worms, bugs, and other dare worthy items). You were meant to eat your fair share of dirt then. Take the chance to enjoy the same Primal goodies now.

Tell the truth.

Yeah, kids will give away the farm in any conversation while the parents bury their heads in mortification. It’s in kids’ natures to put it all out there, of course. They don’t mean any harm. As we get older, we become more tactful, we tell ourselves, more discreet and sensible, but I think there’s something we tend to give up in the process. Maybe we bury our own feelings too much. Maybe we don’t speak out against what our conscience tells us because we’re afraid of offending others, not fitting in, rocking the boat. While I don’t think anyone should give up on basic respect and reasonable limits, there’s a certain freedom in letting our emotions and true selves rise closer to the surface as they did when we were kids.

Let go of grudges.

As Crista noted in the comment section of last week’s 10 Habits of Highly Successful Hunter-Gatherers, kids are the perfect example when it comes to fix it and forget it. Forgive and move on. There’s just not enough time for bitterness when you know Mom is going to call you for dinner in two more hours. Why give up the chance for fun and risk missing out on anything good?

Test limits.

Remember pedaling as furiously as you could just to see how fast your inner superhero could go? How about jumping again and again to get higher and higher, to reach this branch and then that one. Childhood was like a never ending quest to see how brave we were. Why did we ever let go of that instinct or at least confine it into the tiny space of a career function or other “acceptable” trial? We’re clearly missing out. So go ahead. Throw a tennis ball at the wall of your house and see how many hundred times you can catch it. Run as fast as you can just for the sheer amusement of it. See how many Big Wheels you can jump over. Trust me, it’s just as important as what you had planned for the day.


Remember staring at the trees or just out the window for long stretches as a kid? We thought big thoughts or maybe just examined the pattern of scratches on the sill. We’d do well to give ourselves the same mental leisure once in a while. Not only is it relaxing, it can morph into its own flow state when we can be at our most creative.

Move spontaneously.

The daughter of a friend of ours is the perfect example. At six years old, she’s still in that “living fabulous” phase (which every parent hopes will never end). She sings at frequent and random parts of the day. She runs and leaps and dances at whim whether she’s in a grocery store, on the beach, at school, or at home. How do we lose that? Remember the days before self-consciousness set in? When did we stop doing what feels good in the moment? Even if you can’t bring yourself to dance at your work station (although I’ve known plenty of fun people who do), let loose at home and consider trying some Parkour, Zumba, or other way to get you moving differently for your workouts. It’s a start.

Go to bed early.

Sure, we all whined and belly ached about it, but in ten minutes we were out like lights. Play hard, sleep hard. The early turn-in did more than give our parents some peace and quiet. There’s truth to the adage, an hour before midnight is worth two after. It has to do with our circadian rhythms and the pattern of deeper sleep. We stay up late to carve out more personal time or to get more done, but we’d be better off hitting the sack early and dialing back the alarm clock by an hour or two. No one loves getting up early, but we’d be better rested throughout the day as a result. We’d also enjoy a lot less stressful and more productive beginning to the day.

Laugh early and often throughout the day.

Spend a day around young kids, and you’ll lose count of how many times they yuck it up in a day. They’ll laugh for minutes on end at the simplest, even most inane things. And I’m not talking one of the polite chuckles we adults often grant each other in conversation. The old “Chicken butt” joke alone elicits round upon round of riotous belly laughs. Sure, we might need more incentive than the average four-year-old, but why don’t we prioritize laughter more? There are the laughter yoga groups, yes, but how many hilarious books, stand-up, and movies are out there? Who are the friends and acquaintances with the personalities and stories to keep you laughing for hours? Your cardiovascular system needs these folks. It flourishes with the entertainment.


How many of us stayed up late with flash lights under the covers to read our favorite books? (Okay, so we didn’t always get to sleep right away.) It was easy to get swept up then in imagining other worlds. Maybe it was because we’d likely seen so little of the world at that point. Picking up a good book today can be a therapeutic escape from the day or a reminder to get out and make more of life.

Play games.

Somehow kickball never got old as a kid. Neither did Frisbee or ping pong or just about any other game. The movement, the challenge, the competition, the humor, the adrenaline of it all kept our enthusiasm running at full speed for hours. As an adult these days, a whole game can seem like such a commitment. We guard our time “responsibly” but too often go and blow it on the Internet (present blog excluded) or other media. Sometimes we even seem to sit uncomfortably with it, unwilling to commit to a real activity because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop and another chore to appear. Free time should be quality time. Take a leap of faith and commit to a board game. Even better, find out how much more fun tug-of-war is in the snow. Play some hockey on the ice at the corner park, or do relays in the backyard with the kids.


We were at a cabin a few months ago with a larger group. One friend is an art teacher and kept the kids absolutely enthralled by building small houses with all the wood, rocks, flowers, and leaves they could find. The result – and his enthusiastic example – were impressive. Unless we’re in a creative profession, we tend to give that side of ourselves short shrift as adults. Exercising our creativity can help us hone our identities as we get older and celebrate new stages of our lives. Other times it just feels good.

Skip meals (when there’s something more exciting to be enjoyed).

Remember how crushed you were when it was time to come in for lunch/dinner/errands/school/etc. when you and your friends were just getting to the best part of your play? You were on the very edge of a full-blown revelation, the cusp of some great and grandiose scheme that was sure to propel you all toward some amazing success. You know the benefits of intermittent fasting, but it doesn’t have to be the formal, preplanned routine we often make it. If you keep life busy and spontaneous enough, you just might find plenty of opportunity to fit in fasting without ever thinking about it.

Stay outside until the last possible minute.

Why do we impose such early curfews on ourselves? Didn’t we all swear up and down that when we grew up we’d stay out as long as wanted (foot stomp added for emotional emphasis)? Imagine what would be possible if we opened up several more hours to relish the outdoors? Sure, we might miss the benefits of the sun, but the evening and night offers their own rhythms we can enjoy. They inspire different moods, different activities, different adventures. Why limit our outdoor lives?

Next one – your turn. What are the things you think we should’ve never stopped doing? Thanks for reading today, everybody. Share the stuff you refuse to outgrow, and have a great weekend.

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. Love this post! I love being outside!

    Dianne wrote on January 16th, 2013
  2. Fan-bleeping-tastic. THAT is so totally the way to live. Its do-able too. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Sandy wrote on January 16th, 2013
  3. Living for the day! Not letting tomorrows events and worries get in the way of the fun and excitement of today. Each day is a new day.

    Davis wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • There is a line to balance. Lets not forgot the “The Ant and the Grasshopper” story.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on January 16th, 2013
      • Good point and great fable!

        Helga wrote on January 16th, 2013
  4. This post and the comments that follow have just rejuvenated my day. All the way to work I moaned about how I was not enjoying my life, not playing, not finding the Primal Connection (though I loved the book). But all these fun reminders of the unfettered joy of childhood inspire me to try just one thing today — at least one fun, free, exuberant activity so I can remember that I’m not old and not done with joy. Thanks, everybody!!!

    Rhonda the Red wrote on January 16th, 2013
  5. Love this post. Glad to say I have never lost my inner child, and at 51 I still do all those things. My wife calls me the biggest kid on the block.

    I have one to add: Tell the people that you love the most that you love them. And tell them every day!

    Paul Fredricks wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • My husband gets nervous when I say it to his face. : )

      Madama Butterfry wrote on January 16th, 2013
  6. Try new things! Every year on my birthday, I decide on one new thing do learn/do/try. Last year it was knitting. That didn’t go so well. This year, I am learning to play the guitar.

    Also, as someone said above, give and receive HUGS! Not only is it an instant mood-lifter, but it feels good too.

    Jennifer wrote on January 16th, 2013
  7. Something I miss is regular visits to a local woodland. Always felt so at home climbing trees and jumping over streams and carving fallen sticks into spears. If there was a local woodland I know I’d likely still be frequenting that childlike frame of mind.
    When the stream ran heavily, me and my friends would race twigs in it and see how far through the woods they could get!

    Christopher wrote on January 16th, 2013
  8. Wear less clothing!

    Zach rusk wrote on January 16th, 2013
  9. This post made me happy and optimistic. I needed the reminder of how carefree, fun, innocent, curious, and adventurous I used to be. Thank you!

    Emily wrote on January 16th, 2013
  10. Thanks for the comments about jumping in water puddles. I remember as a small child my mom left me with a babysitter who spanked me because I got wet jumping in water puddles after a storm.

    Good grief, I’m in my 50’s and I still remember that horrid women. I made such a fuss the next time I was taken there, my mom had to find a new babysitter.

    Hah, I wasn’t weird for jumping in puddles. Just a young child having fun.

    Stephanie wrote on January 16th, 2013
  11. love the reminders! so true

    AIli wrote on January 16th, 2013
  12. Good post!

    glorth2 wrote on January 16th, 2013
  13. Letting go of grudges is one that speaks so loudly in my life. This morning I wrote a post about forgiving oneself for their past mistakes and how important that is. Once I published it, I saw this MDA post in my mailbox and literally felt my heart leap. This stuff is SO important to remember. Thank you Mark for spreading the wisdom as always.

    Dana wrote on January 16th, 2013
  14. When did I give up on HUGGING PUPPIES AND KITTENS every chance I got? If you can keep from turning home into a kennel!! I swore as a kid I’d go visit the pet store every day and hold as many puppies as I wanted.

    Old man Crossfit wrote on January 16th, 2013
  15. Anybody know a good source for learning about local edible plants and such in Central Texas?

    I grew up in South Florida and took pride in knowing all kinds of strange things that were edible in the woods and I’d like to have that back as an adult…

    Kevin wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • Try foragingtexas dot com. I grew up near Dallas and did tons of camping and remember seeing wild tomatillos.

      Mark A wrote on January 16th, 2013
  16. Sleep overs!

    Michele wrote on January 16th, 2013
  17. My favorite childhood rediscovery is hula hooping! (Hoop dance, actually.) It’s great exercise & fun as all get-out. We have a local hoop jam once a week, with a drum circle, so it’s a social gathering too!

    paleo-curious wrote on January 16th, 2013
  18. Good list. Climb things strikes a chord with me. Every time I “have to” put up the Christmas lights I have the urge to just sit on the roof for awhile and look around the neighborhood from up high. Last summer we’d take family walks and always end up at the school play ground. My son and I came up with a game I called “hot lava.” The goal was to get across the playground w/o touching the ground. For me it was fun exercise, for my son, it was me challenging his comfort zone, getting him to push himself.

    FredS wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • I love that game! We used to play it indoors! Circle the room without touching the floor!

      Simon wrote on January 16th, 2013
  19. I love it, I’m lucky to live in the country on 400acres where I can do all those things. I def. let and encourage my young boys 4and6 to do them! I have a hard time keeping up at 47yrs young, but loosing 45 lbs since 1/10/12 is helping me do more kid things with my boys. Thanks for sharing Mark!

    brent wrote on January 16th, 2013
  20. My son just turned me on to the site…good stuff. I was just thinking of one spontaneous thing that seems primal to me that we should all do…jump on the back of shopping carts and ride them to the car. Imagine a country where people are riding carts…now, that’s a country with no troubles.

    Dan McGee wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • I still do this! The first time I did it with my kids in the cart, they were amazed!

      Susan wrote on January 16th, 2013
  21. I think the other side to laughing more, is to cry as well. It’s ok. It releases pent up emotion and you might feel cleansed afterward.

    Julie wrote on January 16th, 2013
  22. I love the fact that our 15 month old daughter would rather be sitting in the dirt eating sticks and playing in mud puddles than inside playing with all her actual toys. She’s helping me learn how to be a kid again 😉

    Hannah wrote on January 16th, 2013
  23. Saying “What if…”

    Teresa wrote on January 16th, 2013
  24. Never stop DANCING!!!

    Helga wrote on January 16th, 2013
  25. now i’d like to relive all those high school years………lol

    Kevin Lin wrote on January 16th, 2013
  26. I love this!!! I am going to copy me this list and the suggestions in the comments, and post on my refrigerator where I will see it every day! This made me smile and laugh just remembering how it was to be a kid!

    Linda D. wrote on January 16th, 2013
  27. What a great post! I would have added “go barefoot more”. I stayed barefoot most of my summers and had the gnarly callouses to prove it by Labor Day. And now we invest in minimalist shoes (myself included) to achieve the same benefit. Minus the callouses… 😉 I’m also with the huggers. My work enables me to literally touch people all day, which I’m sure benefits me as much as it does them when you think about it. Such a blessing! But nothing–NOTHING–compares to an intentional, full-on, no-hesitation hug. Reading this, and the wonderful comments, I’m so grateful also that, at 42, I have a baby. I can already tell he’s going to keep us young! At least once the aging sleep deprivation is over and one with. 😉

    Heather wrote on January 16th, 2013
  28. Singing and dancing need to be added to this list! When we’re kids (like toddler age) we all loved to dance to our favorite songs and even sing along, without any fear of looking silly or not sounding right. I think that’s one of the first things we lose as we begin to “grow up,” our ability to let loose and have fun with no fear of being made fun of. We even have it better now as adults because if we get made fun of, who cares!

    Stacie wrote on January 16th, 2013
  29. I love this post. Daydreaming was the best and I miss it, being alway caught up in other things to do that really end up being not so important yet they happen every day.

    Artur wrote on January 16th, 2013
  30. Daydreaming, dancing, hugging, and challenging my inner hero on everything that involves mental and physical strength are some of my favorite things to do today. Also,gardening wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shorts, no gloves no shoes, love the feeling of the dirt all over me! When I was a kid we lived in a forested area with a lake near by, I remember playing with my bother and cousins pretending we were explores we used to go camping for the day,and oh man, we did all kind of fun things there like jumping of a rope hanged from a tree and falling on hundreds of tree leaves or hunting for crickets and snails so my uncle could cook them for us. oh those were the good times!! we are so fortunate to live in a forested area now and I can’t wait to have kids so they can enjoy the wonders of nature like I did! Thank you Mark for such amazing post :)

    Patricia AR wrote on January 16th, 2013
  31. Hugging and snuggling with my dogs. As a child they always provided that safe, secure and unconditional love. Even today in my 50’s when I want to feel better I snuggle up with one of my fur babies………….

    Lesley wrote on January 16th, 2013
  32. I love all of them and there’s only a couple that I haven’t accomplished. To top it off we didn’t get the flue from any of them.

    Fran wrote on January 16th, 2013
  33. We had a “sandbox” in our backyard when I was little. It eventually became a “mudbox”. I remember my little brother and I sitting in it and rolling around in it like a couple of hogs. I remember climbing to the top of the tree in my front yard because we were higher then the house roof and thought it was neat. I ran through filthy creeks catching crayfish. We always got soooo dirty. And now, as an adult, I don’t get sick. I haven’t had a cold in years. I am NOT ever getting a flu shot (haven’t had the flu since 5th grade – that was in ’75). I always have contributed that to the fact that I liked to get dirty as a child. I craved dirt, real butter and raw meat as a kid. Our children are constantly sick because they are never allowed to get dirty. If my parents knew then what I know now…

    Heather wrote on January 16th, 2013
  34. A few years ago I started parking at the back of the parking lot just so I could ride the shopping cart downhill all the way back to my car. What a blast! And the looks I got… hee

    J wrote on January 16th, 2013
  35. Great topic, I used to get on my horse bareback and ride on the hill across from our farm, no helmet, no other riders with me, certainly no cell phone ICE…just me and Skeeter…My only requirememt was to be back by dark.

    Horsepal wrote on January 16th, 2013
  36. Great post! I’m 41, and of the generation where my dad worked a lot. But, he made his time with me really count. Some favs:
    1. sitting on the porch at night, watching the stars (we lived out in the woods, no bright lights).
    2. Watching the birds at the feeder from the kitchen window, and referring to our Field Guide to spot new arrivals and visitors. Can’t tell you how many species come to a simple, hanging feeder.
    3. Reading. Dad would read to me from some ancient tomb on World History.

    The point is that my dad, working as much as he did, stopped to disengage from his world and spend time in mine. I’m a dad now, so all this really hits home. So I say, just stop and do what the kids are doing! (though he “I’ll show you mine…” thing might backfire at work)

    Steve Gardner wrote on January 16th, 2013
  37. Ah, yes, the joys of dirt! As a child I lived in Japan, and we would often play around open sewers, keeping an ear out for the tell-tale sound of huge brown rats slopping and splashing down the ditches (like poo-filled Slip-‘N-Slides). Intestinal parasites, impetigo, toxoplasmosis…it brings back lovely memories!

    On the positive side, it may have given us some protection against polio.

    Helga wrote on January 16th, 2013
  38. Playing in dirt (or just doing organic gardening, working in the forest with soil, etc) lets your immune system interact with your environment. And this needs to happen so your immune system stays sharp at identifying friend from foe. So the Germ Theory is wrong. But I will take it a step further using soil microbiology as an example. It is fact that conventional chemical laden (pesticide, herbicide, fungicide) and chemical fertilized soils dramatically alter the balanced relationships between microbes (and all other creatures) that make up the soil web of life. And the immune system of the soil is virtually destroyed as a result. This a major reason why plants that grow in these soils have very little, if any, disease resistance. On the other hand plants grown with organic methods in organic chemical-free soils have high disease resistance – a good immune system. It has been my belief for many years that the immunity of healthy soil (and dirt) can be passed on to humans (and all animals) when they get dirty with that soil often, and this is especially true for the developing immune system of a child. Some people have refered to this as “transfer factors”. I also believe that getting dirty with an environment where the dirt is full of chemicals may hinder your immune system’s ability to stay sharp at identifying friend from foe because the microbes that you take into your body from this dirt could not provide immunity to plants. Basically the microbial balance is wrong and this can negatively affect your intestinal microbial balance and the microbial balance elsewhere in your body. I believe science will eventually shed more light on this, and people will see a major aspect of the importance of living in a chemical-free environment (at least as chemical-free as possible).

    David Marino wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • Early Dutch traders to Japan found their vermifuges (medicines that expel intestinal worms) were always in high demand by the locals. Since the Japanese traditionally used night soil (human excrement) as fertilizer, their gardens were probably pretty darned nutrient-dense. Should not the gut health of the average citizen have been rather good as a result?

      Helga wrote on January 16th, 2013

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