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. We live close to Lake Michigan and I still love to make sand castles! I feel a little silly at first, but I get over it.

    Kathy wrote on January 16th, 2013
  2. I think “Have a race with a friend” needs to be added to the list! Nothing like yelling “last one there’s a rotten egg” and bolting like mad!

    Peter wrote on January 16th, 2013
  3. How about also dressing up for Halloween and walking down the street alongside the kids?! Get into the spirit of holidays/parties/games rather than watching removed from a distance with the other boring “grown-ups”.

    Even home improvement and decorating projects can be something fun. My husband and I built a large cabinet together in the shape of a TARDIS (police box from Dr. Who–achieved “coolest Aunt and Uncle ever” status for that one!). We also turned our dingy basement into a mid-century Tiki lounge and atomic-era “spy” room. Our action figures are proudly displayed, and the slot-car set never gets put away (and we don’t even have kids ourselves).

    Dorothy wrote on January 16th, 2013
  4. Living and working in a city after being brought up on a farm, every time I get near a park I have this overwhelming urge to lie down on the grass. And mostly I do, if I am not wearing white.

    Suzanne Perazzini wrote on January 16th, 2013
  5. Dear Mark,

    I am a regular coffee drinker and enjoy the fleshly ground beans. I am interested to know what your take is on coffee preparation methods. I understand atherosclerosis is a concentration driven processes (in terms of Apolipoprotein B), and in that respect it would make sense to use a coffee filter (as to filter out the Apo B increasing lipids from the coffee). However, I think the French Press tastes better, and I suspect that most coffee drip machines and plastic filters are not free of BPA or other harmful hormone-like polycarbons. What is your take on coffee’s effects on Apo B? Does it matter, or does it not matter for someone who is not hyperchloremic? Does 20 mg/dL Apo B even matter in terms of blood profile of a healthy person? Do you have any other suggestion for alternative preparation methods? It would be accurate to say that I regularly consume >2 fair sized cups a day, which is what the study determined was the cut-off threshold for when coffee consumption started to associate with increased Apo B (although I understand that correlation studies cannot show causation).

    Thank you in advance.

    Torak wrote on January 16th, 2013
  6. Excellent blog today! I still do many of these things and enjoyed the memories and smiles the rest brought.

    Dan wrote on January 16th, 2013
  7. This has been one of my favorite posts to date! It’s such a refreshing reminder to take the time to go back to instinct and what feels right in the moment without any filter or worry of judgement. I remember the joy and lack of hesitation to run to any swing anywhere and feel the wind, how heigh you could soar, and know you could control your speed. Thanks for a great post Mark!

    Layla wrote on January 16th, 2013
  8. Play hooky! Every year in the Spring we take the kids out of school and go to a ball game.

    Lara wrote on January 16th, 2013
  9. After reading the post and all of your replies the little kid in me wants to cry. Someone stole all of his fun.

    Dave wrote on January 16th, 2013
  10. You should also stomp leaves, they make anexcellent sound and are fun to jump into when piled high.
    Another fun thing and will get you strange looks is running through the sprinkler in the summer at the Capital in DC. very fun

    Tina Parman wrote on January 16th, 2013
  11. Great post!! We grew up doing alot of these things -racing (always barefoot) around the neighborhood, riding our bikes everywhere (no helmets), and also had a blast riding horses -(also no helmets) . We’d ride bareback all summer, ride through the creek, etc.
    I still live a life that’s pretty much outdoors all year round, fairly rural, and sort of revolves around dirt, good produce, and animals.

    Rene R wrote on January 16th, 2013
  12. I did those things as a child and they just don’t have the same spark they once did. Kind of like watching the same movie over and over. When I was a teenager I tried to play with toys that thrilled me to no end at one time and it just wasn’t the same. I will sled or throw snowballs or make snow angels but its just not enough wow to do it over and over like a kid will.

    Val wrote on January 16th, 2013
  13. Cuddle the dog. I recently adopted a dog and watching my 6 year old cuddle the dog and just run and play with him,and get him to sleep on her bed. Reminds me if doing the same thing when I was a child. More fun than just taking him for a walk around the block.

    Karin wrote on January 16th, 2013
  14. This is my favourite post so far, simply because I got a little emotional reading it. It took me back to the hours I used to spend in the woods. Barefoot, no less! I loved when we ‘had’ to rake the leaves. That meant piles and piles of the stuff to jump in, lie in or just kick around. I love that the primal blueprint really leads us to what we should have been doing along.

    Janet wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • oops *doing all along…

      Janet wrote on January 16th, 2013
  15. My son was a dirt-eater. I’d discover him sitting in a pile of dirt with a dirt ring around his mouth, grinning from ear to ear. He and my daughter would, after a rain, sit at the end of the driveway, in the depression, playing in the deep mud-puddle, just laughing and splashing each other with the muddy water. Great memories for us all.

    Rick wrote on January 16th, 2013
  16. I have been really lucky with much of this. I have siblings that are 13 to 20 years younger than me. Right after I got home from work I would eat quick and head cross town to see what was on with the kids. Great fun!

    Cindy wrote on January 16th, 2013
  17. Wrestle/wrassle/grapple! As kids, we were always mixing it up on the playground with friends, or at home with siblings, testing ourselves against one another and just having fun being physical. For the past three years, I’ve been doing this on the mat with others training Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I am nearly 48 and can still hold my own with guys more than half my age. BJJ is about technique and leverage, and learning these new skills and testing them with caring, competent training partners is incredibly fulfilling! Just be sure to choose a well-regarded school with established ties to a reputable master.

    pocopelo wrote on January 16th, 2013
  18. Reading is a multi-faceted activity for me, especially considering fiction. I used to be very enthusiastic about reading. Now sometimes I can get immersed in a novel for hours at a time and sometimes picking one up seems like one of the most useless things I could do. In those cases Mark is right – trying to read something we don’t want to can be a kickstart to do something better. I find reading more interesting when there’s a lack of other leisure activities, like in jail, or before any experience with that, like in class at school.
    I may be going back to jail again soon. I missed a probation appointment and didn’t report in the normal accepted time frame. I slept in. Then when I had the motivation to go rectify my uncooperation it rained for most of a week like there was another hurricane – in mid January – so I didn’t want to leave the shelter of a water-proof roof. (Well, I sort of did. At night when there was no one about and it was pouring I considered using the rain as a shower and cold water plunge at the same time, but I had no way to dry good enough and wasn’t going to fall alseep wet in my new sleeping bag.) At least I was warmer for a few days and almost all the snow melted so the footprints leading to my secret lair are mostly abolished. I’m usually warm enough except sometimes for my feet.
    Some of these headings run together for me like climb, jump, play in the sand, and move spontaneously.
    I usually take the backways walking through towns and cities and prefer to take the wildest route possible. If there’s no time restrictions I’ll take long-cuts sometimes instead of short-cuts – “the scenic route”. It feels better spending limited time in robot-mode 90 degree-angle world.
    I tested myself the other night. I jumped from the bottom of an upside down garbage can and tried to grab onto a heater coming out of a wall. It was wet so I slipped but landed smooth enough on my backpack and still derived some euphoria.
    Last night I was walking along the town river and heard wood cracking so I looked and saw a branch moving down the river with the water being disturbed near it and this morning I saw lots of pointy small tree stumps so I assume a beaver’s been very busy. In a small nature reserve in a city I saw a crow or raven flying by holding a whole hotdog weiner in its mouth. You’ll see more interesting animal activity if you take the more natural routes.

    Animanarchy wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • Dear Animarchy,
      I’m not sure if you’ve heard of “Batman’s” ‘Four Cornerstones’ of law. It’s not ‘law’ as we are told to accept it, it’s way beyond that.
      In the simplest nutshell possible, in the face of ‘The Law’, ie, judge, you have no name, you are not a person, you are simply ‘a creature of this planet’ or ‘a benevolent observer’.
      To say your name; ‘You can call me ‘Bob, short for Kate’ or whatever pleases you at that time.
      If they ask why you’re there, you say something like, ‘I’m here for that matter, which I would like to settle honourably.’
      One must be prepared to lose every material item- that’s sort of the big thing most people would baulk at, but basically, this is the key to getting the judge to HAVE to let you go. Avoid all titles because that links you back in to the system. My memory is sketchy, but it’s along these lines.
      I’ve not tried it, but apparently it’s the key. No harm in looking it up I guess, if you had the time. I don’t I’m afraid.
      This is all presupposing you haven’t harmed anyone or their property…
      : )

      Madama Butterfry wrote on January 16th, 2013
  19. I walk my dog at the beach almost daily and it is remarkable that here in Southern California the beaches are pretty empty between Labor Day and Memorial Day. People think 65 F is too cold. People also drive to the beach, park, and watch the sunset from the comfort of their cars. Sad.

    But more for me! I get to enjoy the sand beneath my bare feet, smell the sea spray, watch the pelicans above me flying in formation and feel so wonderful. Maybe I’l build sandcastles this weekend.

    We planted many fruits in our backyard and Love to pick a ripe berry, grape, fig, etc and eat it out of hand. My dog absolutely loves and begs for any fruit right off the tree, much more than fruit from the store. I use my dog as my role model since he loves meat, loves to play, show affection, sit in the sun, dig in dirt, sprint and take naps!

    Pure Hapa wrote on January 16th, 2013
  20. Just forwarded this to my husband. I love it when our kids are covered in mud it means they’ve had fun, but maybe we should join in more often. I love this post. I’m going outside now to join the kids. :)

    sally wrote on January 16th, 2013
  21. As a teacher I get to do a lot of these things simply because I CHOOSE to do so. If you want to get kids on board then you have to be a kid yourself. Getting down and dirty with kids is a two-way street. Everyone benefits.
    Getting to be early is a hard one – alwways so much to do!

    Maria wrote on January 16th, 2013
  22. Sing, even if you think you can’t: in the car, the shower, the kitchen, to children your loved ones, yourself.

    Brad Morley wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • +1

      Sally wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • Singing loudly in my car really makes my day. It can turn a bad day into a good day:D

      Debra wrote on January 16th, 2013
  23. Holding hands. Reaching for the hand of trusted loved ones – family or friends – whether it be in a moment of fear, or just wanting to feel closer to share a moment. I wish I never stopped doing this and I encourage anyone to try to get back into the habit.

    Kate wrote on January 16th, 2013
  24. as we live o our own orgnic smallholding I would say that virtually all of those are daily occurences.

    I would, though, add 4 things:

    Hugs and those 3 little words.

    RobW wrote on January 16th, 2013
  25. To increase the outiside play adventure last summer we installed a 180′ zip line. We also put up a triangular slack line (Gibbon) through the trees coming off the top of the zip line and then strung a really tight climbing rope about 4′ over the slack lines. We run the slackline course and play tag and then take the zip line down. Kids spend HOURS running the zip line back up to the start point (where they have to climb the tree to get started). I even got my 70 yr old mom to do it last summer! It was awesome!

    docrio wrote on January 16th, 2013
  26. Be amazed!!

    Peg wrote on January 16th, 2013
  27. I love this. One thing I notice my kids doing is not judging. As long as you can play, kids don’t care if you are boy/girl/young/old/black/white/ethnic/impaired. We can learn from that.

    Linda wrote on January 16th, 2013
  28. I might drive a mud encrusted Jeep…but with no doors, roof or wind shield I get plenty muddy to. >_>

    Pyth wrote on January 16th, 2013

    Old man Crossfit wrote on January 16th, 2013
  30. Dancing like there is nobody watching
    splashing water at each other and get totally wet in the summer. The kids love it. Or in Winter, find some snow slops and skid down with tube or just play in snow.
    Gang tickle one of your friends when she is down.
    be happy for simple things
    don’t stay upset for long
    run everywhere when you get out and be curious about everything.
    Eat when you are hungry and don’t eat when you are not.

    reza wrote on January 16th, 2013
  31. About a week ago I cried.

    For some reason I woke up with SuperTramps “The Logical Song” in my head so I went and turned on the PC, fired up youtube and watched it about 4 times.

    I couldn’t believe the emotional impact it had on me, I was 12 again, could remember all those things I did as a kid and how fun life was then, and it absolutely smacked me between the eyes.

    How strange that this article is released a week later.

    Do yourself a favour and watch the “The Logical Song” on youtube, but I warn you, have tissues nearby.

    Marcus wrote on January 16th, 2013
  32. I was really introverted, so I used to love playing make-believe. I would dig out whatever from the closet, dress up, and then act out all kinds of behind-the-scenes and after-happily-ever-after stories for myself. I’m sure there’s a great adult application for this that isn’t just for Halloween and the bedroom… Heck, lots of us here make-believe at hunter-gatherer, right? I wonder how much fun we could have with that concept.

    Deanna wrote on January 16th, 2013
  33. I LOVE today’s topic!!! Why can’t I be childlike again? I want to! I remember! Ya know, sometimes I am childlike; probably at least once daily. If only I had the energy that I had as a child…

    bamabelle wrote on January 16th, 2013
  34. Something I can recommend is playing games with your pets.
    I’ve done this since I was a child with both cats and dogs.
    My current two cats (Abby twin boys) love chasing a piece of string, and stuffed mice I throw around for them. They will also play hide-and-seek!

    Getting off the internet and reading some books is the one I will resolve to change immediately.

    Gary_UK wrote on January 16th, 2013
  35. Eat with your fingers!! Food just tastes better!! Be selective as to where you do this tho!

    Jayne wrote on January 16th, 2013
  36. I love doing all of these things – got to admit, I never grew up :)

    I love splashing in the waves and running alongside my dog at the beach, while other adults look at me longingly – sometimes I see in their eyes that they wish they could be less inhibited.

    Mark, I’d love to share a video with you – there’s another reason why your readers often feel like they don’t fit in and why sometimes they feel like a square peg in a round hole…

    Jacqui Olliver wrote on January 16th, 2013
  37. After being treated or should I say abused for cancer last year, my New Year new life is going to be all about living simply. All the things Mark wrote about here.
    I feel sorry for the kids these days who are being carted off to this class, that sport this…whatever. So their parents can spend all their time complaining about how busy they are “with the kids”. lol

    sweetpea wrote on January 16th, 2013
    • I hope you have a great year.

      Debra wrote on January 16th, 2013
      • +1

        Madama Butterfry wrote on January 16th, 2013
  38. Things I’m learning (again) from my five-year-old daughter:
    -Push the plate away. It’s ok to not eat everything and not be part of that old-fashioned “Clean Plate Food Club” of Grandma’s.
    -Never meet a stranger. Yes, she’s got discrimination and is learning age-appropriate “stranger-danger”. She also loves making new friends of everyone she meets instead of being in a rush.

    Dineen wrote on January 16th, 2013
  39. I still chase the cat (when I visit her at my parent’s place), pull her tail, rile her up, wrestle with her :-)

    Makes me feel young and care-free, and most definitely happy!

    Nez wrote on January 16th, 2013

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