I think we can all agree that a basic goal in life is the attainment of happiness, that mind state characterized by positive and pleasant thoughts and emotions. But how do we become happy? By definition, happiness requires some type of pleasure to be present. We need good feelings and good physical sensations. Furthermore, the pleasure must come first, before the happiness. Something, and I don’t care what it is, has to make you feel good before you can truly call yourself happy. As such, our behaviors and our motivations are shaped by that pleasure-seeking tendency. And that pleasure-seeking is mediated through the reward system, which has several different but interrelated components: liking, which describes the sensation of pleasure; wanting, which describes the desire to obtain the thing; and learning, the Pavlovian-esque conditioning. Basically, if we do something or expose ourselves to something (a fun social situation, a healthy food, the sun) that confers a survival and/or health benefit (improved social standing, some vital nutrient that our body needs, vitamin D production), our reward center “activates.” We like it, we want it, and we learn that having it is in our best interest.
There’s something about these middle weeks of summer that feel less hurried, less brimming, more casual. At a certain point of the season, everybody remembers to relax a little and soak it in. The “lazy days” mood got me thinking about daydreaming – those lost minutes (maybe hours) in which we unintentionally slip into contemplation. Sometimes we end up floating into more serious ruminations. Other times, it’s just loose and happy reverie. We all do it – whether it’s looking out the window of our morning train, laying in the backyard hammock, or sitting (standing, rather!) at our work desk. It can often happen even if we’re trying to focus. Call it a lapse in discipline, but the brain seems to have its own agenda in those moments. Is there some purpose here beyond mere escapism? What is the brain really up to, and what could daydreaming have to do with well-being?
It’s time for another edition of “Is It Primal?”, where I do my best to rescue certain foods from Primal limbo (if they deserve it) and banish others to Primal exile. And sometimes, I’ll keep a food languishing just because there’s really nowhere else to put it. This week I have five foods. Some, like sunflower oil and wheat germ, are quite common. There’s a good chance you have, or soon will, encounter them out there in the wild, and I hope to give you the tools to handle them. Other foods, like skyr and corn smut, won’t be quite so common (unless you’re a time traveler from 16th century Mesoamerica or an Icelander), but you never know when you’ll have the opportunity to eat some corn fungus and acidified cultured cheese yogurt. You want to be prepared. The last food isn’t really a food, but rather a supplement that attempts to replace a food.
I’m no stranger to spending the bulk of your time thinking about training, programming your training, planning your meals so that they support your training, modifying your training to affect your performance, and modifying your training to affect your body composition. I was an elite endurance athlete who dabbled extensively in strength training; I’ve been there. I’ve dug into the minutiae of it all. I’ve reveled in perfecting my post-workout and pre-workout nutrition. It’s fun, and a little addictive. And although I’m no longer concerned with that stuff for my own training, I know that many MDA readers care about it, so I try to keep up with the current research. Today’s edition of Dear Mark is all about training. Let’s dig in.
There’s a battle brewing over flip-flops. While Bob Thompson (of the Institute for Preventive Foot Health) makes a mistake when he criticizes the lack of “heel support and structural support… on that little slab of rubber,” he makes a good point that “taking your five toes and grabbing your shoe” is not normal and could lead to problems. Where do you stand?
What’s better than flip-flops? Zero-drop huaraches for your kids.
Neanderthals used medicinal plants (surely with a prescription only), new fossil evidence indicates.
Speaking of Neanderthals, they sported massively muscled right arms because of their propensity to… scrape bits of flesh off of animal hide to make pretty clothes?
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