It’s a common question I get: how to graciously decline the proudly presented delicacy, the traditional or long-labored sweet, the celebratory dessert. Like it or not, desserts are woven into our cultural doings and gatherings. As one reader put it recently, “I’ve been trying to go quasi-primal for about 6 months and have had very good results. A challenging situation that I’ve experienced is declining dessert offers from friends who LOVE to bake. How do I politely decline a chef’s generosity without offending them?”
I occasionally get emails from readers who are interested in lifestyle changes that can either complement or replace their conventional treatments for depression. Since our post a few weeks ago on antidepressants, I’ve gotten a slew of emails asking me about the role of nutrition in mental health. In response I thought I’d devote a Dear Mark to the general question of diet and depression. Thanks to all who wrote in or commented on the boards or forum!
It comes as no surprise that nutrition directly impacts brain performance just as it does the functioning of every other organ. Although the roots of clinical depression involve a complex (and theoretically contentious) mix of physiological, genetic and socio-emotional factors, the physical picture hones in on neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that travel between nerves in the brain. Of all the neurotransmitters, the key players in mood disorders are dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. When we talk about a diet that supports mental health, we’re essentially looking at nutrition that sustains both optimal neurological functioning and hormone balance.
College students and healthy lifestyle. On the one hand it seems like the ultimate contradiction. Pizza boxes, Red Bull cans, Doritos bags, beer bottles, Captain Crunch at every cafeteria meal. They’re as much a cultural vision of college as John Belushi’s sweatshirt. If there were a Primal no man’s land, you’d think the residential campus experience would at least be a top contender. Nonetheless, college needn’t be the physical wasteland it’s made out to be. And, let’s be honest: most students do not really live/eat/drink this way. As many students exercise regularly and eat decently as send their bodies through the wringer during their college careers. Nonetheless, campus living is its own kind of existence, and it presents its own challenges for maintaining a Primal routine. Not surprisingly, I get emails from college readers asking for tips on how to live a healthy lifestyle. Here’s one:
I’ve been following the blog for a couple of months now and have been trying to get into a regular exercise routine like you describe. Unfortunately, I get some fitness momentum going and then lose my willpower once I hit stressful or busy times. I feel like it’s a game of two steps forward, one step back (at least). What do you say to someone who’s trying to hit a fitness stride but keeps backsliding? Do you have advice on how to boost willpower? Thanks!
Your question is a timely one. Much was made over a recent study (PDF) that demonstrated willpower as a limited resource. The crux was this: we have a finite amount of willpower in a day (so to speak), and when it’s used up, that’s it. In a given day we might defend against donut cravings at the office all morning, force ourselves to keep our head off the desk in an afternoon slump, resist the opportunity to chew out the neighbor for letting his dog poop on our lawn yet again, and make ourselves go out into the rain to set out recycling and put the kids’ bikes in the garage. Finally, we push ourselves to stay up late in order to finish a company project. Surely, we can be proud of our resolve, our diligence, our commitment to family, work and neighborhood accord. Nonetheless, we’ve left ourselves with neither the time nor remaining willpower to pick up the weight set. Too many tasks, too little energy and too much frustration have zapped our self-discipline, and the balance is zero when we go to direct some toward the day’s workout. The research says this: as much as we’d wish otherwise, we don’t have separate willpower accounts for different areas of life.
What is your workout schedule? What do your meals look like? How did you lose weight and stretch marks after pregnancy? These are just a few of the questions you sent in last week.
Hello, everyone! It’s Carrie Sisson here today to field your questions. Last week Mark and I asked for any questions you might have about my experience living the Primal lifestyle. I want to thank everyone who commented for your kind words and thoughtful questions. I’d love to hear your thoughts to my responses in the comment board today. Thanks again and Grok on!
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