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

A Primal Take on Body Image

Even with the close of the Primal Challenge and its final week of reader content, I still have all those great successes on my mind. Whether in photos, videos, or description, it’s incredible to see people enjoying health and feeling great in their own skin. This got me thinking about body image. It’s a loaded subject in our society. Occasionally, it’s a loaded subject even on MDA’s comment boards or forum. As much as we’d like to edit out the less complimentary, even judgmental threads of discussion, to tuck away the uncomfortable conversations, I’m not sure that’s entirely right. This blog encompasses everything about pursuing vitality and living healthily in this world. That includes the sometimes thorny topic of body image – both as personal experience and cultural backdrop.

Like anything in our world, no issue is immune from controversy, tension, or just plain difference of opinion. My one hope of course – and I know many of you share this – is that we speak with respect to one another, owning our opinions as solely our own, recognizing that we all come to our Primal pursuits with varying experiences and interests. We start from different places. We meet our own challenges along the way. We work toward individually determined goals that – while commonly embracing ideals of good health and vitality – may diverge from there.

These goals of course reflect what we want for our lives but also for our bodies. We may begin the journey wanting to lose weight. We want to get strong. We want to be able to spend a full afternoon hiking with our dog or run our community 10K. We want to be able to chop this winter’s firewood and still have enough energy for a bike ride later. We want to gain entry into the world of competitive body building or other sports. (Maybe we’re part of it already.) We want to kick a lifestyle disease to the curb. We want to show off a six-pack or rock a new bikini.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post on vanity – a response to a cheering reader onslaught (who knew?) after I casually listed LGN (“looking good naked”) as one more reason to go Primal. Since then the phrase has kind of taken on a life of its own. I stand by that rationale. Nonetheless, I want to go on the record saying that this isn’t some interest in promoting artistry- and computer-enhanced magazine type representations. (Guess what – we all look better backlit. Keep that in mind next time you’re redecorating the bedroom.) Besides, has anyone looked at a J.Crew catalog lately? (No, I don’t shop there.) Someone please give these young men and women a t-bone steak.

A couple of weeks ago, The New York Times ran a feature about Gym Jones called “The Cult of Physicality.”

Some of you may have heard of the club. As the article reveals, Gym Jones has been the makeover mecca to many a Hollywood star, including Gerard Butler, Henry Cavill, Jude Law, and an undisclosed number of Navy Seals. The manager, Robert MacDonald (a.k.a. Maximus) runs a tight ship and makes no bones about the awesome demands of the program. Any of us who have even seen his clients in a passing commercial or magazine ad can believe the results. The fact is, with massively rigorous training, people can do pretty astounding things with their physiques. (Of course it helps when they’re getting paid millions of dollars to do it.)

While a lucky few of us can achieve looks like those without entirely super human efforts, most of us would find ourselves giving up unreasonable amounts of time, energy, and focus to achieve and continually maintain them. The result would be too costly without serious passion for the form itself – whether it be for athletic or aesthetic interest.

The beauty of going Primal for most people is the great return on time investment – the incredible results they get with relatively modest effort but also the extra energy they gain, the better sleep they get – all of which makes their lives easier and in some ways more efficient. They have more time and energy for what they enjoy doing and the people they enjoy doing it with. Flipping the logic on that proposition isn’t a deal most people are interested in. And they don’t need to be. But if they are, that’s cool too.

For me, a Primal take on body image naturally revolves less around appearances and more around utility. From an ancestral point of view, utility was the originally intended source for selection interests. Certain appearances, yes, suggested a level of health or “fitness,” but they weren’t the final arbiter: function itself was. There’s nothing more real than picking up a tree stump, hunting down your meal, hurling a rock, carrying a child, building a home. Want body love? How about loving what your body has accomplished and what you can do today?

I think people who have been through serious illnesses or other life changing physical events may get this in a exceptionally poignant way. I know, for example, plenty of women who have had children and said it entirely changed their thinking. It makes you stand in awe of your body in a new way, I believe. You recognize your body as a force of its own rather than just a canvas for your own inclinations. Whether it’s licking diabetes, bearing and caring for children, recovering from severe injury, or working off major weight, these accomplishments should absolutely help define one’s body image.

Body image isn’t some static declaration about what you see in the mirror any more than a body is a two-dimensional still representation. Bodies move and do. They work. They lift, run, build, have sex, nurture, toil, and create. Body image, then, should encompass our full relationship with our bodies. Everything we do and accomplish with our bodies should enrich our image of them. Some of us add steps to pursue demanding sports or fitness standards because – well, we love it. No further justification needed.

That’s what I love about the ancestral framework of the Primal Blueprint. It’s all about a rich, vigorous, and genuine life. It’s about respect for action – for true, useful, and pleasurable utility. Here’s my endpoint. Primal takes back body image from the modern precipice of insubstantiality and unapologetically re-roots it in the world of authentic vitality and dynamic living. I say work it.

What’s your Primal take on body image? Let me know your thoughts, and thanks for reading, everybody.

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. This, I like …
    “That’s what I love about the ancestral framework of the Primal Blueprint. It’s all about a rich, vigorous, and genuine life. It’s about respect for action – for true, useful, and pleasurable utility. Here’s my endpoint. Primal takes back body image from the modern precipice of insubstantiality and unapologetically re-roots it in the world of authentic vitality and dynamic living. I say work it.”

    Svend wrote on October 13th, 2011
  2. I think about this stuff a lot… and worry (probably more than is really healthy) about how I look. My wife often kids me that between us, I am the one who got stuck with the stereotypical “female” body image issues.

    Taking a primal approach for a few years now has been a nice balance for me on this point. It has definitely helped me “LGN,” but has also made me more aware of the importance of the *utility* you describe.

    My ongoing goal is to look really good and function really well (i.e. be strong and mobile). Another piece – also connected! – is including play and joy/happiness in the mix.

    Luckily, although there is work to be done, I feel very much like primal living has put me on the right track to meet all of these ambitious goals.

    Mark Ellis wrote on October 13th, 2011
  3. Hey Mark,

    Regardless of what I look like today, it is really hard to overcome the image of myself as that 129lb (at 6’1″ tall) 18 year old high school kid. Even when I weighed 180 a few years ago, I felt skinny (probably because I wasn’t strong).

    Slowly but surely with Weston A. Price/Primal/Paleo plus CrossFit mixed in with CrossFit and some PB for fitness, I am replacing some fat with muscle. But at 44 some of those changes sure seem slow.


    Tim Huntley wrote on October 13th, 2011
  4. I think its great to try and look good naked but it seems as if most of us are a little obsessed over this. We care so much about the details of nutrition even when we already look incredibly good naked. It stresses us out which stalls any additional progress.

    You don’t have to look perfect in order to look good naked.

    I just think we all need to have a little patience. It took YEARS to destroy our health, so we should expect it to take YEARS to get it back. Our bodies are amazing and thus in most cases it will take less than a year but I say we learn to have that patience.

    One should focus on being strict for 30 days or so and be grateful that they have found this incredible movement so early on. I’m 23 and am blessed at this every single day.

    Primal Toad wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • “You don’t have to look perfect in order to look good naked.”

      A good point to make.

      Russell (Primal U) wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • The phrase “don’t let good be the enemy of perfect” comes to mind

      or whatever it is

      AlyieCat wrote on October 13th, 2011
      • haha..well said

        Laurie wrote on October 13th, 2011
      • It’s the other way around :) but you make an excellent point.

        gingersnapper wrote on October 14th, 2011
    • Isn’t it great that while it took years to get as sick as some of us were, we get well at a faster rate – remarkable bodies!!

      And we should keep in mind that no one is looking at us, they are too busy wondering what we think about them. Kinda freeing when you really think about it. And it’s true. As much as we wonder about how our bodies are perceived, the truth is, whoever we’re naked with (or not) is so busy wondering about what we think about their body that they don’t even notice ours.

      W. J. Purifoy wrote on October 13th, 2011
      • Agreed. Most of us are so freaking concerned with ourselves that it does not really matter what the other person looks like which is us every time!

        Great way to look at it…

        And, being overweight is now normal. I remember in grade school when people would get bullied if they ere overweight. Today that is probably not the case nearly as much.

        Primal Toad wrote on October 13th, 2011
        • Primal Toad, sad to say there still is a LOT of bullying based on weight. Despite the fact that there are many more overweight people, it is NOT accepted nor forgiven in the general public/media. I am pretty big and have found that in my exercise community I am treated with respect for my age and my commitment but I still can’t wear the same brand of pants that my girlfriends all like to wear. just saying it hasn’t changed that much.

          charity dasenbrock wrote on October 14th, 2011
    • “You don’t have to look perfect in order to look good naked.”
      well said!

      love this article! I have 2 kids and my mommy body is nothing like it used to be but I wouldn’t change that! Working on my body image, which is a daily struggle but loving Paleo lifestyle and I need to not stress. I have been stressing which is why I think I am stalling!

      Jessica (paleo butterfly) wrote on November 24th, 2011
    • You really are lucky. I am twice your age and still consider myself lucky having stumbled upon MDA (thanks for the link Lew Rockwell!). Nobody I know looks as good as me in my environment in my age group and that is quite something to say after just 9 months of strict primal lifestyle and considering how miserably I felt and looked before. Although the looks is just a nice bonus to the change of mental and physical health regained – quite motivating at times nonetheless to be honest.

      einstein wrote on October 14th, 2012
      • +1 Lew Rockwell…I found this site through his site and am forever grateful.

        skeedaddy wrote on October 14th, 2012
  5. I haven’t mentioned this before in my very few comments here, but thank you for all you do, Mark. This article in particular reminds me of your efforts and intentions.

    Much appreciated.

    Bob Carson wrote on October 13th, 2011
  6. Great post Mark, especially after a month long challenge. People often set extraordinary goals for themselves; goals that might not be attainable in the short term. However, in doing our best to get there, we always discover new and amazing things about ourselves, our bodies, and what we are capable of.

    Sure, the six pack would be nice, but getting up every day feeling healthy, well rested and self confident is pretty cool too :)

    The Fit Fat Kid wrote on October 13th, 2011
  7. Having struggled for a good many years with body image, it’s been nice to see how quickly my body has responded to the PB lifestyle. I easily lifted a 15 kg pail of honey this morning up a flight of stairs, with one arm! Last year, I struggled just lifting it and moving it one meter with 2 arms!

    That surely helps my body image even though in terms of body fat I still have a way to go.

    It really is a matter of perception, isn’t it?

    Happycyclegirl wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • That’s awesome!

      AlyieCat wrote on October 13th, 2011
  8. After gaining serious weight with both of my pregnancies (60lbs with the first and 50 with the second), my body still shows evidence of that abuse more than 6 years later. I’ve been self-conscious about the front of me (which took the worst beating of all) for years, and have always done my best to “hide” the post-preggers belly that I’ve been sporting since I was 19. Although I’m still not happy with the way I look naked, I’ve accepted that I can change it, and I am, slowly but surely, one day at a time. Every man who’s seen me naked since my kids were born has had the kindness and good taste not to be disgusted by it (or at least, not to make a big deal out of it), and now that I’m with a man who accepts me for who I am in every way, I’m no longer preoccupied with getting that “bikini” body. I am a beautiful woman who has been blessed with a fully functioning body, and I am grateful for that every day. Thank you Mark, for such a wonderful post, and for everything you do for us Grokkers. =)

    Siren wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • I saw a show series on TV about islanders from Tana (spelling?) who came to the united states to look for a long lost person they once had visiting them on their primitive island.
      The men who were grandfathers looked in their 30’s…but they weren’t. The women all looked very young, too, but were also grandmothers. I could not see the difference between 20 year olds and 40 year olds at all.
      The women all had a plump, healthy figure and you could see who was pregant before and who wasn’t (stretched belly skin).
      Ya know what, NOBODY cared. They all ran around in their loin clothes, happy, singing and dancing. NObody was embarassed about some belly flab they still sport around since 5 years prior. This is all just Hollywood bullshit with PC program editing and a ton of plastic surgeries…it isn’t reality.
      Everywhere else in the world stick thin women are outcasts. Since going primal I don’t even think they look healthy anymore. What primal, healthy man would want some fragile skinny twit tagging along through the woods trying to hunt elk? It’s too much work. I like a woman who can lift a hog leg and throw it over the fire :-)
      And eat it, too.

      Arty wrote on October 13th, 2011
      • “I like a woman who can lift a hog leg and throw it over the fire
        And eat it, too.”

        You’re turning me on.

        Chloe wrote on October 14th, 2011
      • My husband always says he can’t understand why women think a man would be interested in a women whose figure resembles a young boy! Luckily I will never have that figure :)

        Pilbara Pink wrote on October 17th, 2011
    • Siren, these are words I hope many women read, especially “I am a beautiful woman who has been blessed with a fully functioning body, and I am grateful for that every day.” I gained a good bit of weight with both of my pregnancies as well, though I did so in my late 30s, which might’ve made it worse. Good for you for realizing what’s important. I can tell just how beautiful you are!!

      Lisa wrote on October 17th, 2011
    • Mark’s post reminded me of a YouTube video I had seen recently, but I thought I *should* post a link after Siren’s post here. It’s a clip from an interview of Eve Ensler talking about body image:

      Love your tree!

      Elisabeth wrote on October 17th, 2011
    • I don’t know what it is, but I like the post-pregnant look.

      Lindsey wrote on May 11th, 2012
  9. I was thinking about body image this morning as I was sorting some clothes into the Goodwill pile. “Do I really feel a heck of a lot better about myself now that I wear this size?”

    Honestly, the answer is no. I wish I hadn’t spent years and years worrying about size 2 jeans. It isn’t worth it, and I’m the same person who wore size 8 jeans. I just wish I could tell the high school version of myself to relax.

    kitty wrote on October 13th, 2011
  10. “Whether it’s licking diabetes, bearing and caring for children, recovering from severe injury, or working off major weight, these accomplishments should absolutely help define one’s body image.”

    Amen to that! You managed to hit 3 of my top 4 accomplishments.

    Let me add a couple more: bending over from my waist without getting light headed, no more back pain, the elimination of a couple of chins and at least 1 spare tire, and the unshakeable feeling that THERE IS NOTHING I CAN’T DO.

    You’re the best!

    Kate wrote on October 13th, 2011
  11. Great Post.

    There is indeed much neuroticism flying around in the Paleosphere about body composition. Eat Primal/Paleo, find activities that you love doing, and for the most part, body image will take care of itself!

    But work up a reasonable strength foundation for whatever activity you pursue. Easy.

    Frank wrote on October 13th, 2011
  12. I just took a look at the J. crew catalog. No kidding! It’s the anorexia catalog. Those women do not look healthy, and I could tell that from just looking at the coat section.

    toaster for sale wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • Yea, I looked at J. Crew too. They are so skinny – I noticed in a lot of shots, they can’t even stand up straight on their own steam.

      W. J. Purifoy wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • I looked, too and had the reverse reaction intended by that company. I want nothing they have because the models make everything offered look so unattractive.

      Deannacat wrote on October 14th, 2011
  13. Great post, Mark! I ate that one up. I still mourn all those delicious steaks I could have been eating in my vain pursuit to look good. What a waste! Thinking healthy, doing healthy, feeling healthy, looking healthy-that is the new tune I live by. :)

    Ashley North wrote on October 13th, 2011
  14. An excellent treatment of the subject.

    Sam Knox wrote on October 13th, 2011
  15. Beautifully written and perfectly timed; thank you Mark!

    Helen wrote on October 13th, 2011
  16. … “a Primal take on body image naturally revolves less around appearances and more around utility”.

    Yes, from an evolutionary perspective, form follows function. The traits we find attractive are ones that helped solve some recurrent adaptive problem, like winning a fight, or growing a child. See:

    Symons, D. (1995). Beauty is in the adaptations of the beholder: The evolutionary psychology of human female sexual attractiveness. In P. R. Abramson & S. D. Pinkerton (Eds.), Sexual Nature, Sexual Culture (pp. 80-118). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Ellis, B. J. (1992). The Evolution of Sexual Attraction: Evaluative mechanisms in women. In J. H. Barkow, L. Cosmides & J. Tooby (Eds.), The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (pp. 267-288). New York: Oxford University Press.

    As well as some fun stuff:

    Miller, G. F. (2000). The Mating Mind. London: William Heinemann.

    Scott wrote on October 13th, 2011
  17. Great post! My body shows the wear and tear of 5 pregnancies but being primal has changed me. I can find beauty in parts of my body that I hated before and I know that I can work on the areas I still don’t like.

    Tara wrote on October 13th, 2011
  18. Forget looking good naked! At 55 and the aging of skin, not sure that is possible regardless of effort. But due to the PB way of life, I feel fabulous and look pretty good for any age! I may not look good naked, but I can rock a pair of skinny jeans!

    Dianne wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • You can? Wow, awesome! Few people can do that, including me…;-)

      Alison Golden wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • I hear ya! Right there with ya :) (age 51)

      peggy wrote on October 14th, 2011
    • Me too with the skinny jeans – at 49, for the first time in my life. And love the look on the faces when I tell people how old I am. I sure don’t keep it a secret. My skin looks so much better than when I was (unsuccessfully) trying to do it all (be fit, be thin) on low-fat, high-carb. My five year old passport photo, when I had just lost weight that way, looks like I have just come off drugs! Today I am as thin but stronger, my hair is thicker, my skin clearer and less flushed looking …. I could go on and on. And I love to eat what I eat – I look forward to meals as a treat not something to be endured for the sake of the size of my butt!

      Pilbara Pink wrote on October 17th, 2011
  19. Well, I might still not really look GOOD naked but I certainly look BETTER (than I did . . .) naked. One step at a time i guess.

    Brian Clasby wrote on October 13th, 2011
  20. In thinking about body image, one of they key thoughts I have is for people to set reasonable and achievable goals and to frequently revisit those goals and make adjustments along the way. Having big audacious long term goals is fine, but you also need short term goals and accomplishments to keep you motivated and moving in the right direction. A goal to lose 50 pounds is huge, and for many, it is just a dream. A goal of losing 5 pounds a month for the next 12 months is very realistic and achievable. You still get to 50, but the small victories along the way are very motivating (Just imaging how pumped you will be if lose 6 or 8 lbs. in that first month?). Commit to 30 days, measure your progress, reassess, then commit to the next 30 days. The LNG part will take care of itself.

    Jon wrote on October 13th, 2011
  21. I loved reading this, and it really resonates with me. Since living and eating more primally my body has filled out (with muscle, and in better proportions than ever before). I think prior to discovering your website I would have freaked out if my body had reacted this way to a lifestyle change. But I’ve noticed how much easier my commute up a 10 minute steep hill each day on my bike has gotten, and how I can push myself harder in the gym and increase weights, and I’m truly confident of the muscles I’ve gained… those are all reasons to be proud of my changing body not be ashamed at all.

    katie wrote on October 13th, 2011
  22. I’ve said several times over the past month and a half that I’ve been eating the Primal/Paleo lifestyle: “I wish I had known about this sooner.”

    I went through my teenage years over weight before somehow shedding a good part of the weight in college. Through my twenties, I improved with better exercise programs.

    Now 34, I’ve adopted this lifestyle and seen definitive results quickly – visually and in what I am capable of.

    Thursday last week I pulled a shrub from my front yard that when I started was about six feet wide and 15 feet tall, using only a hand saw and a pick ax. After being diagnosed with a sinus infection Friday, I came back Sunday to run a Personal best in the 5k and take an outright win of the race. And then followed that with playing 70 minutes of soccer with my adult league and then finishing the afternoon playing with my kids.

    In many ways, Primal has brought a re-prioritization of life and what I want.

    Dennis Murray wrote on October 13th, 2011
  23. I’ve only been on PB for about 3 months now…and while looking good naked is definitely something I aspire to, I feel like, while eating this way, I can at least look forward to looking the way I was meant to look…whether others would consider that ‘good’ or not. I can feel that eating this way is getting my body to where it is very comfortable, and that’s more important ( to me anyway) that looking great naked. My husband might have a different opinion though…. :)

    Lindsey wrote on October 13th, 2011
  24. I like being attractive.

    rob wrote on October 13th, 2011
  25. Love this post, Mark — it resonates so well with the rest of the Primal approach. Going primal has definitely improved my overall looks–even naked–but better than that, I FEEL good naked. And that’s the most fun :-)

    Marianne wrote on October 13th, 2011
  26. Great post Mark, and a gentle reminder to many of us. I’ve been mulling this over this week, I would love to have a flat belly, but I don’t think I want to spend the energy and commit to the diet it would probably take to get me there. Maybe I am happy sticking to the PB, being strong and energetic, and looking pretty good (much better than pre-PB) with my clothes ON!

    spincycle wrote on October 13th, 2011
  27. I think part of the body image issue, especially for women, is the idea that your body is a thing to be looked at, rather than a tool for accomplishing things. After I started lifting weights so many years ago, I started to feel much better about my body even though it hadn’t changed much at all, because my foundational notion of what my body was for had changed.

    Susanne wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • Well stated!! I see so many girls on TV and in magazines who have absolutely no muscle and it makes me sad that that is what young girls are aspiring to! Since when did being weak and unhealthy become and aspiration?!

      Robin wrote on November 1st, 2011
  28. While my 50+ y/o body is still showing wrinkles from the substantial weight loss, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather have those than an ugly open-heart surgery scar across my chest. That certainly was the direction I was heading before I went Primal.

    Mark wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • There you go! Well said!!!

      W. J. Purifoy wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • … “a Primal take on body image naturally revolves less around appearances and more around utility”.
      I think that resonates for me because some of us do have “great big scars across our chest” or elsewhere. If scars mean I can’t LGN that’s the way it is. But I can feel good naked and enjoy a healthy vibrant body that takes me where I want to go. That vibrant feeling helps me feel good about my body, love my body.
      Kudos to everyone who gets PB before CW leads them to the need of drastic invasive measures inflicted on their bodies.

      Jodi wrote on October 14th, 2011
  29. I think I really needed this today. Got on the scale to a 3 lb weight gain in a week and started freaking out. Funny thing was, I woke up feeling pretty good–have been lifting and sprinting and eating really well, but somehow the scale undid all of that.

    As a woman, it’s hard to balance the competing influences of “be as thin as you can” with “be as healthy as you can” sometimes. It’s good to remind myself that it’s not “survival of the thinnest.” :)

    Rachel wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • With lifting and sprinting and eating well you probably gained some muscle there. I hardly ever weigh any more. The numbers that really tell the story are on my tape measure. I found that I can go long periods and the number on the scale remains relatively stable and then I measure my waist and find another 1/2 inch GONE!

      Deannacat wrote on October 14th, 2011
  30. While I have a few more pounds to go before I can really LGN, I can honestly say that my confidence in my body has increased greatly. I used to hide behind big, baggy clothes. Now, it doesn’t bother me to wear more form-fitting clothes. I feel good about myself for the first time in what seems to be my whole life, and that is a prize beyond price. Of course, besides having a greater self-esteem, having all of this energy and vitality is awesome!

    “You don’t have to look perfect to look good naked.” – Thanks, Primal Toad. That put a smile on my face. Well said.

    Kim wrote on October 13th, 2011
  31. I do agree with the functionality part – but I suppose the great thing about PB also is you have most control, aesthetically. You could go for a really sporty look, like Paula from one of the success stories; or you could go for a more subtle look.

    one of the reasons I went Primal was because I wanted to be able to defend myself and, even, save my own life if needed; to be fit and strong. However, as a model, the aesthetic consideration was also a main factor – I am quite skinny naturally – you could say, an ectomorph? – and I wanted to add more definition.

    I think the important thing is that a healthy, fit body is beautiful! You don’t need to think about both – one comes of the other!

    Grok On!!

    Milla wrote on October 13th, 2011
  32. Beautiful post.

    pmpincali wrote on October 13th, 2011
  33. Love this! And I agree it was perfectly timed.

    After just finishing your book & the 30-day challenge, I am new the the PB/Paleo lifestyle, but loving it so far. I’ve struggled with a few health issues since having my son 2 years ago & I’m already seeing changes in that respect (positive ones).

    One thing that has struck me about some of the forum posts is that some people seem (to me) a bit obsessed with appearance. I guess that is America in general, though. And I guess it makes sense that eating this way can help body-builder types achieve their goals… which would attract those types of folks to this way of eating. Just not something I’m used to.

    Yes of course we all want to look good naked, but clearly that’s not the most important thing in life… nothing worth obsessing over.

    sara wrote on October 13th, 2011
  34. I have a history of *really* crappy body image and disordered eating (bulimia). Thank you so much for this post.

    I now have two small children and have a little extra pudge on my belly as a result, but am so much happier with my body now than I was when I wore a size 2. I can deadlift 225 lbs now and wear a size 6-8 at ~20% body fat. I’m not “skinny,” but I am happy. And I’m HEALTHY, which is far more than I can say of days past. And that makes for great body image. I don’t need to be 15% BF. It would stress me out far more to aim for that than to aim to be stronger.

    And for the record, I *feel* a lot better naked now than I did at a size 2, even if I have a c-section scar and a little extra skin.

    Celia wrote on October 13th, 2011
  35. Oh, I dunno. Yes, all the physical benefits are great, but many people start on the PB perfectly capable of movement. I like it because I have tons of energy and it makes my gains easier and YES, because I look better – not because I’m marveling at the fact I can walk up stairs. I get that those things are taken for granted by those who can easily do them, and might be appreciated a lot more by people who come to this having weighed 300 lbs their entire life, but all this kind of reads as is more “don’t be so vain” proselytizing. I was shocked and awed at the negative reaction Paula’s amaaaaazing body got in the comments section of success story. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being concerned with your appearance as long as you are healthy, and not everybody has to overcome cancers or regenerate an arm through PB to be considered a “success.” It’s the only thing that has ever gotten me below 8% bodyfat, and I still consider that a great accomplishment, even if my body worked perfectly fine before.

    Bailey wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • Bailey, I don’t think Mark is talking about celebrating every flight of stairs. It’s about the physical “doing” kind of goals we each have – lifting a certain amount, running a certain distance, but also being able to as he says chop the season’s firewood, or carry a child while taking care of other children (not always easy in those later months). Utility is meaningful for everyone – from the newbie to the body builder.

      Jen wrote on October 13th, 2011
  36. I’m just ready for the outside to look as good as the inside feels!!

    B.J. wrote on October 13th, 2011
  37. There are cultural differences to be considered. There is a certain Southern California vanity that suffuses much of this world (primal/paleo/P90X etc…etc) which is fine. If I lived there enjoying the fine year round weather I’d probably buy into it.

    As it is I only wish to be healthy, I frankly couldn’t care less about how I look. (A&F ain’t gonna be calling me to pose in the spring catalog no matter what) If I thought I could be fat and healthy I’d be fine w/ that but that’s not possible.

    Looking better naked is a side effect for me, not a primary goal.

    IvyBlue wrote on October 13th, 2011
  38. Great article and good message. I will say though, it’s much easier to say that feeling good is not all about how you look, when you look good.

    Due to health issues (lyme, co-infections, more) I have gone from being an active person, working full time, flat stomach, 16% body fat, and muscle definition, to sitting around most of the time due to lack of energy, working part time from home when I can, about 24% body fat, very little muscle definition, and a constantly distended stomach. I am finding it difficult to feel good about myself right now although I am doing the best I can – in everything.

    Kristina wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • Hang in there. At age 61 I just found out two months ago that I have been battling a mold/fungus/yeast infection in my sinus and probably my whole body for many years.

      The minute I started addressing this issue, the flabby tire around my middle disappeared in less than two weeks. 10+ pounds lost. My clothes fit sooo much better, no overhang and LGN, while not like someone in their 20,30,40s, is pretty amazing now.

      I have been living the LowCarb lifestyle for over 15 years and PB lifestyle for over 2 years, and while feeling great and performing well, I couldn’t get rid of that flab around my abdomen. Shock when just cleaning my sinuses with Nasosympatico let me be rid of my flab. Thank goodness!

      Now pray I can gain control over the Menieres symptoms that caused me to address my sinus issues.

      Dragonfly wrote on October 14th, 2011
  39. LGN is a bit like the peacock’s tail. We call it “vanity” because it seems to serve no purpose. But really, it does.

    To grow a proper peacock tail, the peacock has to be healthy, fit, nutritionally complete, and free of parasites and disease. That is why peahens are attracted to a fine tail. It’s not because the peahens are shallow or because the peacocks are vain, though it might seem that way at first.

    Same with human body aesthetics. Having lots of muscle mass and low body fat (but not too low) is a good thing because it correlates with health, fertility, strength, survivability, and all those factors that determine reproductive fitness. When we achieve LGN status, it’s because we’re very healthy indeed, even if it was only “vanity” that motivated us to get there.

    A little vanity can be a good thing, and perhaps that’s why it’s almost universal. Embrace it as part of your genetic legacy and make it work for you, rather than trying to stamp it out or letting it control you.

    Timothy wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • Agreed! It really annoys me when people judge you for looking after your appearance.

      Milla wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • Jeez, what a great response! While I appreciate Mark’s post for the Kumbaya, it’s all-good aspect of it, I feel a little patronized by it as well. The pursuit of a nice body is the pursuit of a healthier body. Some of us are closer to it than others that’s all.

      Hillside Gina wrote on October 13th, 2011
    • Wow, yes! I’ll admit, while I love reading the success stories here, I feel a little sub-par because I didn’t come to the Primal Blueprint to overcome disease. I was already really freaking healthy. I wanted to look good — I came across a fitness website that mentioned this kind of diet as a good way to lose fat. Turns out this is a great way for me to maintain my weight over the long-term without feeling deprived. The fact that I feel great was a secondary perk, but honestly, I came to this 2 1/2 years ago out of vanity, pure and simple. I feel less like a heathen now knowing I’m not alone.

      Deanna wrote on October 13th, 2011

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