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

Engineering a Better Life: A Reader Case Study

bruceleeThis is a guest post from Mark’s Daily Apple reader Jack Oughton. This article and last week’s article from Primal enthusiast Jack Yee go to show that there are many different approaches to living a healthy Primal lifestyle. Maybe some of the strategies that have worked for others in the community will work for you as well. Enter Jack…

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” ~ Bruce Lee

Unlike many of the contributors to Mark’s Daily Apple, I’m not a health and fitness professional. I haven’t got the time. I’m a freelancer, trying to design a happy existence around an incredibly demanding yet fulfilling job, and some semblance of a social life. And do this all as simply as possible.

And that’s why I reached out to Mark. I thought it might be helpful to share what I’ve learned in the last 7 or so years of doing this Primal stuff from the perspective of a “non fitness guy”.

I’d imagine not all of my approaches will be applicable to you, but some might. Take as many or as few as you like. icon smile

Effectiveness, Not Efficiency

So, my main aims are doing things as simply and cheaply as possible. Though wellness is a priority, I think there’s only a finite amount of mental and physical energy we can expend on it before we see diminishing returns, or it detracts from other areas in life.

Thus, I want to spend as little energy as possible on wellness, and get the maximum “bang for my buck”.

And this is where Primal rocks…

Engineering a Better Life

I take a minimalist approach. Inherently the ideas are simple – adding more seems counter to the philosophy of returning to our ancestral roots, right?

So, the first idea is to do away with is willpower (a finite resource that none of us will ever have enough of) and think instead about engineering circumstances to fit your goals. E.g creating an environment that encourages you to express your natural self and do the stuff you need to.

I’ve found it is easier to create an environment which “forces” you to do the right things rather than rely upon willpower. Because when you fight against yourself, eventually you lose. It also takes about 66 days to form a new habit/replace an old one, so perhaps thinking longterm with personal change is the best way to do it.

(Also at the bottom I’ve included books links around this idea of “environmental engineering” for those interested…)

For about two years I have worked from home and have tried to create a living space, workspace and “movementspace” all in one. After much tweaking, I think I’ve finally arrived at something worth sharing…

I wanted an environment that supported the following (not very inventive) goals:

  • Be Happy (by controlling my time and being able to play to my mercurial life approach)
  • Be Healthy (by eating well, moving regularly and getting incrementally stronger over the years)
  • Be Fit & Strong (as above)
  • Be Productive & Creative (with nutrition that nourishes my brain and an environment that nourishes my creativity)
  • And As Cheaply As Possible (spend as little time, thought and energy on this as possible)

But no, I’m not an “orderly person”.

One of my core values is chasing some kind of idealised freedom. Which means do what I want, when I want, within reasonable boundaries. Like Mark, if I want to skip a workout, I will. if I want to spontaneously workout, I will.

I’m also impulsive. I’ve never really adhered to a diet or workout plan. A while back, during an experiment with ketogenic dieting I tried to count calories and quickly lost interest.

sweet brown calories

So I’ve found imposing rigid structure doesn’t work, but loose structure does…

In building any system I find that we usually first go through a gathering/construction process by which we acquire a bunch of stuff for later. Later we get to deconstruction and sifting and hacking away the system to its essentials.

I’d use the analogy of the sculptor who first spends his time acquiring the perfect rock and then chiseling it down. Or the bodybuilder who packs on the mass before cutting down to achieve the…”vascular” look (lol).

And after many years at this, I feel I’ve tested and discarded many approaches and things.

Here’s the essentials, the stuff that “made the cut” for my system…

Point #1 – Optimal Health, Not Optimal Adherence

jack no shirt 001

I’m not one who believes that paleo or Primal is the “only way” – AFAIK our goal is optimum health, not adhering to a dietary philosophy, right?

And so, we must perhaps try not to confuse the dietary philosophy, which is a means, as our ends. Primal is our means, and our ends are being healthy and happy, yes?

How?

Like many of us, I haven’t bought in to the “Paleo orthodoxy”. I occasionally eat legumes, regularly use whey protein and will eat large amounts of junk carbs (but no gluten!) on backload/cheat days.

And, asides from the fact that well-timed carb ups seem to support performance and body composition, you only live once right? (or insert your chosen platitude/excuse here…)

Because IMHO no single template, no matter how well designed, fits everybody precisely

Point #2 – Move More to Do More

From someone who was mostly sedentary before embracing this way of life, I’m happy to say I’ve gotten completely out of the habit.

I find my energy to wane if I sit in any spot for too long, which causes my productivity to suffer. Since I’m not paid by the hours I work, but by the project I complete, this is no good.

Like most of us, I want to spend as much time as possible at high energy but be able to switch off into a state of relaxation when I need to. Put another way, I wanna have a clear distinction between work and play. This is important as a freelancer (and an area I have seriously screwed up in the past).

How?

I do this by having what I see as multiple workstations, depending on the season (e.g the garden and a nearby coffee shop count as “workstations”). This usually stops me getting “stale” in any one environment and also I get to be social when “out working” – another important thing for the solitary freelancer.

I also avoid this “staleness” by cycling between projects (something I’m lucky enough to be able to do) and using “fasting days” in which I find my work focus is sharpened by a combination of the fasted state and hilarious quantities of black coffee.

The result? These days I find myself spending less time in front of the screen but getting more stuff done when I’m there. Complete freedom from the the desk has been achieved.

Next I’m trying for complete freedom from the computer…

Point #3 – Too Comfortable Is Uncomfortable

Just an opinion here, but methinks too much comfort is not desirable.

So my approach is to make things more uncomfortable. To impose stresses that force me to move, and make exerting myself part of the day to day. Maybe it’s a little old fashioned, but I also believe there’s truth in that old cliche of too much comfort “softening” up people.

Mark’s already gone into the dangers of too much sitting, but I also believe “sensitising” ourselves to comfort makes times of relaxation all the sweeter. Lemme give you an example…

Us humans tend to devalue/take for granted any stimulus we are repeatedly exposed to. E.g if you live next to a railway line, eventually you’ll stop noticing the sound of trains rolling by.

So for me, having less comfort overall makes the times I do decide to do something relaxing far more enjoyable. It also aids my sleep, since I’ve basically tired myself out in the day.

How?

Standing more - Mainly via my standing desk, which cost about £12 to make. I went to a builder’s merchant and asked for about 50 shiny new bricks (sounds absurd now that I mention it). I put my existing table on the bricks and… voila!

standingdesk

Floor Living/Chair Avoidance – I’ve mostly substituted chairs for working on the floor, usually cross-legged, but in often in whatever position the body wants to do. Asides from getting good at the Lotus Position, this also ensures I move around a lot, since the floor was not designed to accommodate any position for a prolonged period. This applies to mealtimes as well (though rarely when dining with company…)

Futon – I swapped a bed for a Japanese-style futon. It saves me space and time messing around with a mattress. It seems to be good for my back as well (strong support), and cost about £30 – way cheaper than a regular bed and mattress.

Greasing The Groove – (see next section…)

Point #4 – You Don’t Need the Gym to Get Stronger

Confession: I’ve never been to a “proper gym” (if we’re honest it’s a combination of being a cheapskate and being slightly weirded out by the idea of people watching me squat).

Also I think most of us don’t agree with a lot of people’s approach to exercise, which is trading one screen and cubicle in the workplace for another in the gym.

So my approach is to see training and movement as almost the same thing, and do all of my training at home or as part of my regular movement outside the home.

I also find it to be pretty cheap and time effective as there’s no gym dues or gym travel involved. This way I can “be active” when the impulse strikes, which as I said before is important to me…

How?

Greasing The Groove…

With a Pullup bar. I have one above my door, which I often set myself the challenge of doing a certain number of reps on before I enter/leave the room. I think Russian “strength Czar” Pavel Tsatsouline calls this approach “greasing the groove” and the habit of doing pullups on the door every time you pass through quickly gets established.

Or with “kettlebell complex coffee breaks”. I also do this by taking intense coffee breaks involving kettlebell complexes.

These are really time effective. I’ve not got the space to describe it here but in a complex you basically don’t get to put the weight down ’til you’ve completed your set. This tires you in a very short period of time.

kettlebells 1

Provided you don’t go nuts and smoke yourself, it’s quite invigorating and you return to work pumped. Google for some example complexes…

Doing Stuff “The Hard Way” – Then of course there’s the simple things you can do in daily life away from the home. Why take the elevator if you’ve got the stairs in front of you? I’ve found doing the regular little things like this help build habits conducive to health, long term.

Weighted Hiking – As an urbanite, I’m lucky enough to not need a car, and I walk to as many places as I can. I do this mainly in the form of what I’m now calling Food Hiking™ (not an actual trademark…) – taking a 4 mile round trip to my local supermarket and buying a lot of food, which I carry back with me.

For the days I want to do this but don’t need to obtain dinner, I bought a cheap rucksack on Ebay which I fill with weight. I put it on and go walking. My normal route is hardly a scenic one (much of it is beside a motorway) but getting out is invigorating all the same. I average about 20 miles of walking a week this way and it gives me time and space to think…

Are you making the most of your freedom?

I dunno about you, but I’m pretty sure that our ancestors were, on the whole, free of the “rat race” and the 9-5 so many of us take as a given now (see the “original affluent society” theory).

Perhaps freedom can be defined as “control over your time and choices”. For me,  I have tried to free up my time as much as possible and avoid the kind of commitments that take away my time and money, no matter how well marketed/advertised they are to me.

Ways to cut costs and limit expenses using technology are an entirely different article, and we’re talking wellness, not personal finance here, right?

But perhaps the last thing to consider when engineering your ideal environment is how you maximise your amount of free time, and how it’s spent. We all have different commitments, many of them are unavoidable. But not all of them.

Of the things you do now, which do you really love? And, if you had to start again, of the all things that you are doing now, which would you keep?

nature

Because you can always start again…

Thanks for reading.

Further Reading

•    Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness – Richard H Thaler, Cass R Sunstein
•    Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success – Kerry Patterson et al
•    Lifehacker’s article on “The Pareto Principle” – Focusing on the most important stuff. Can you apply this idea to the things you do?

jack 1

Jack Oughton Bio

Jack Oughton, AKA Koukouvaya is a freelance writer/copywriter, composer/sound designer and digital artist/photographer from South London who has serious problems writing biographical information about himself in the third person. He has written for the likes of The Guardian, The Independent and FHM, and currently spends all day sculpting alien sounds using wavetable synthesis. He can be found on Twitter as @koukouvaya

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 the Bruce Lee quote. Now it’s time for the movie, “Enter the Caveman”.

    Nocona wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Which would be a truly brutal combination of Ong Bak & The Flintstones :D

      Jack O wrote on May 28th, 2013
  2. Thanks Jack. Lots of thought provoking ideas. I love posts that expand the concept of Primal.

    Harry Mossman wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Thanks Harry! Glad you liked it :)

      Jack O wrote on May 28th, 2013
  3. There’s some very interesting concepts in this article. It’s got me thinking about how I can make my home more spontaneous and functional…maybe strategically placing weights, books, art supplies, etc in the living room, den, kitchen, etc, so no matter where you are, you can be reading something, doing a couple reps, or expressing your creativity.

    This concept is especially important for me since I have a 15 month old daughter and two more girls on the way. My wife and I have already agreed we do not want them to be stuck in front of the TV all the time, so strategically placing stuff around the house sounds like a great idea!

    Jacob wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Hey Jacob

      That is a *great* idea! What better way to design an environment that fosters creative, active children? I think I’d try and do the same…

      I guess the only caveat would be to start the little’ns on lighter weights first ;)

      Jack O wrote on May 28th, 2013
  4. Doing stuff the hard way is exactly what I did this weekend. I had lots of yard work. Installed a stone walking path in the back yard, which required 700 pounds of rock. I could have put those in the wheel barrow, but carried them myself. Removed a bunch of overgrown plants with a shovel and did a bunch of weeding by hand. Best of all, I made about 6 trips to Home Depot to buy mulch (not the best or cheapest way but to long of a story). In those six trips I purchased about 100 bags. Each time I loaded up a cart of about 15 bags, wheeled the cart out and loaded them into the SUV. After about the third trip, the Home Depot guy said ” You know we’re selling mulch in the parking lot and you can just pull your car up and we’ll load it for you?” I said, “Yeah, but I want the exercise?” He had a very puzzled look on his face.

    Steve wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • hey Steve – I’m with you 100%! I don’t own a wheelbarrow either although I did borrow a neighbor’s the other day to move a small mountain of topsoil. I avoid power tools too as much as possible although I do own an electric lawn mower. Power leaf blowers??? gimme a break…

      Mike wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • Unless you find leisure in such activities work smarter, not harder. Tools and machines make humans more productive. My guess is you two have desk jobs.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 28th, 2013
        • I’ll agree with the part about using tools. Loading a wheelbarrow, walking it to where it needs to go, and then unloading it is plenty of primal exercise, especially in a yard project that may take up a full day or multiple weekends. I’d rather use the wheelbarrow and finish the project a little sooner, thus freeing up time to play with the dogs, go for a swim, grill dinner, or something else fun.

          Mantonat wrote on May 28th, 2013
        • We are DIYers, mostly because it saves us a pile of money. :) We’ve gotten to the point where I’m the first to say – “Let’s the rent power tools we need.”.

          My husband knocked down a tiny wall in our house over the weekend. We could have taken hammers to it, but a reciprocating saw made it a 45 minute job instead of hours.

          Even with our love of modern tools, we’re still moving heavy things and outside a lot. (There was no escaping getting the wall pieces to the dump. ;) ) We have more time to actually put in flowers and tackle stuff ourselves when we use the right tools.

          (And we love our power leaf blower — I was skeptical, too. But it really does work better. We almost look forward to the leaves on the ground now :) )

          Amy wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • I love my leaf blower! Or I did until it quit working on me. (I think it got a bad fuel/oil mix and burned up the engine.) It made short work of removing all of those pesky pin oak leaves that like to clog the gutters and down spouts! Even the nasty, wet, matted leaves. That was it’s whole purpose in life. Now, I have to clean out the gutters by hand – yuck! And when the down spouts are clogged, I have to drag a hose up on the roof to spray them out. The leaf blower was so much more fun.

        b2curious wrote on May 29th, 2013
  5. Can anyone tell me where the 9 to 5 is coming from? 9 to 5 is like a 7 hour workday if you count in a 1 hr lunch break. I doubt we have a single magic outfit in town that does that kind of relaxed schedule.

    leida wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • The hours 9 to 5 were traditional business hours, i.e., when a store was open. Employees probably had to work longer than that, maybe several hours longer, e.g. doing stocking and counting money.

      Harry Mossman wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • I work 8-4, with a 30-minute lunch break. A standard work week at my company is 37.5 hours.

      Jay Gloab wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • I work 10 til 530 with 30 min lunch break. Probably depends what country youre from.

      Greg wrote on May 28th, 2013
  6. Love the closing thoughts on the post. Going Primal has boosted my energy, saved me time eliminating workouts and made me more aware of my natural surroundings (with more outdoor walks). What to do with all that energy, time and awareness now?

    Don B wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Hiking is the best & most fun exercise aside from swimming! Of course I’m writing this as I’m “hiking” through the streets of Manhattan :)

      Jaybee86 wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Do what you were born to do!

      Jack O wrote on May 28th, 2013
  7. Bruce Lee was awesome shame he died young :(

    Jaybee86 wrote on May 28th, 2013
  8. Loved this post and agree with so many things here. There are many ways we can incorporate primal strategies into our lives by incorporating new habits and tweaking our existing ones. It is amazing how much change we can see by doing several things just a little differently.

    And I couldn’t agree more with your point: “Though wellness is a priority, I think there’s only a finite amount of mental and physical energy we can expend on it before we see diminishing returns, or it detracts from other areas in life.”

    Alison Golden wrote on May 28th, 2013
  9. “Primal is our means, and our ends are being healthy and happy, yes?”

    +1

    Jenn Rath wrote on May 28th, 2013
  10. This is a great post and a great example of the strengths of MDA: we may think we know all this stuff, but when it’s laid out thoughtfully we begin to understand it in a new light. I appreciated Jack’s mindful and holistic approach.

    In Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’, virtue is treated as a process of habituation, not willpower or striving, which leads to ‘eudaimonia’ (a sort of noble happiness) and ‘megalo-psuche’ (to be ‘Great-souled’). I see these principles at work in this essay.

    Gray Whale wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Agreed. I have recently taken up a quest to de-clutter my house of many non-essential items. Personally, I just feel happier and less stressed in a minimalistic environment. Might go home today and throw out some more junk. :)

      Jacob wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • You are speakin’ my language!

      Jack O wrote on May 28th, 2013
  11. Jack, seriously excellent post. Very much the path I am travelling too – pare back, declutter and create an environment that motivates you.

    Kelda wrote on May 28th, 2013
  12. This sounds just like me, or what I would like rather, but I have to wonder if you have a significant other to fit into the mix? I hate to give the excuse but he is the biggest problem I’m finding these days….

    Carol wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Best I can tell you is try incorporating small things first that offer minor benefits but don’t really affect his daily life/routine and slowly build from there. Once he sees how these changes benefits him he might be more willing to make bigger changes.

      Jacob wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • I agree with Jacob, start small. Also, be sure not to compromise your goals and health to appease him. The best you can do is stick to your guns about the decisions you’re making for yourself, and hope that he eventual sees how it’s benefitting you and begins to make changes for himself.

      I have the same problem…my allergy-, asthma-, excema-suffering boyfriend pretty much refuses to give primal a try, even though I’ve explained it to him and shown him that the food is still fantastic (I cook nearly every night). I’ve given him my copy of the PB, asked him to read the intro newsletter from here, and told him how I’m concerned for his health. Still nothing. Sigh. Keeping my fingers crossed that someday soon he’ll give it a try. I’m finding that Primal living is becoming more and more important to me everyday, and it’s very difficult watching your significant other suffer from allergies/asthma/excema but not do anything about it.

      Stacie wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • If you get your boyfriend to give it a try, bear in mind that results do vary. Before going primal, I suffered from allergies and eczema, but not asthma. I still have allergies and a touch of eczema. So far, going primal has had, at best, a negligible impact on my allergies. That being said, grass fed and organics are currently out of my price range, especially since my husband and children are NOT primal. I am seriously allergic to grasses and trees, and moderately allergic to weeds. During the spring and fall, I take enough antihistamines for 3 normal people. I’m also moderately allergic to dust and a few other things, so I usually have to something sporadically during the “off” season too. As for my eczema, it’s mostly cleared up, but it took some tinkering to figure out the exact things I needed to do, besides eliminating grains – add vitamin D (I take 6,000 IU, when I don’t get some time in the sun) and get more sleep. Foods probably have some effect on my eczema, because I had a flare up when I was a chaperone for my daughter’s 3 day Space Camp (Fri.-Sun.). My eczema acted up right at the end and a day or two after. I ate as primaly as I could in their cafeteria…

        With your boyfriend, you may be pushing too hard. You may want to just back off and just be a good example, which can be very, very frustrating when you see a loved one’s health suffer and are sure diet could help. Believe me, I’m there. My husband is suffering from some serious health issues and I am postivive his diet is at very least, a contributing factor, if not the main cause, but he’s the one that has to to want to change before he can.

        b2curious wrote on May 29th, 2013
  13. Loved the article…and the SICK haircut!!

    Megan wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Thankyou Megan! It used to be better, but the dreadlock fell off ^_^

      Jack O wrote on May 28th, 2013
  14. The racist picture really surprised me.

    Mary wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • How is it racist?

      Is this a meme thing that I apparently haven’t seen?

      Is it the wording is somehow seen as uneducated? I’m from the South and the word ain’t is commonly used. Even the phrase “ain’t nobody” (which is the only stereotypical thing I can find in that pic) is thrown around here without raising an eyebrow.

      Could it be that your own view on stereotypes is the real issue? Would you have had a problem with the picture if it was a white woman saying the same thing? If not, then I’m afraid you’re being a little too thin-skinned on this pic and stirring up issues that don’t exist.

      Jacob wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • +1

        I’m a transplant to the South. Most black (and white) Southerns I’ve met are proud of who they are and hardly give a thought to the way they speak. I notice it, but that’s because I grew up in New England and I was taught that “aint nobody” was uneducated. From their point of view, I imagine most Northerners (including me) sound cold and stuck up. The pic is racist only if slang=low class=black=bad. I don’t think using slang is low class and even if it if was, it’s not a big deal, either. And I’ve certainly heard white people use it, so the language is not limited to race.

        Amy wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • The stupidity of some of the people reading this blog really surprises me. Are you a black person, Mary? If you’re not, shut your face. If any of the many black people reading this blog find the image offensive, let them say so themselves.

      Malandro wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • Interesting that when you assume I am a cowering white woman you are willing to go for insulting language with an insinuation of violence. You have no idea who I am or where I am coming from, but now we know something about you.

        Mary wrote on May 30th, 2013
  15. I truly love your outlook on life (as racist and homophobic as some may believe!?). Really inspirational and insightful read. PS: I love the standing desk pic. I think everyone should share their own DIY jobs on this (so far I’ve just found http://pinterest.com/aoinakanishi/standing-desk/). Mine is mostly shoeboxes. I also enjoy attempting handstands in my version of intense coffee breaks.

    I still can’t do a handstand #WIP

    Cat wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Pleased that you liked it!

      I don’t think I can do handstands either, but I am going to test this theory in the garden tomorrow and probably take out half the foliage and a few trees in the process.

      I think we should hang out more. ^_^

      Jack O wrote on May 28th, 2013
  16. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/sweet-brown-aint-nobody-got-time-for-that

    Copyright Lawsuit

    On March 9th, 2013, Oklahoman daily newspaper NewsOK reported that Kimberly Wilkins (the woman in the photo) has filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit and a compensation of $15 million against Apple Inc., Seattle-based radio program The Bob Rivers Show and a number of other parties for unauthorized use of her likeness for commercial purposes.

    According to the article, Wilkins filed her first complaint against “I Got Bronchitis,” a remix based on audio samples from her KFOR news interview clip (shown below), which became available for purchase via Apple’s iTunes store in April 2012. While the song has been since taken down from iTunes, the suit has since moved to the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma and remains pending.

    Allen wrote on May 28th, 2013
  17. I really really enjoyed this article because I can relate to needing loose structure, not rigid. I’ve always really struggled with this aspect of my life because a lot of what you’re taught and given ask help (weight loss, nutrition help, education, etc) is based on rigid structure. For me there is nothing wrong with rigid structure but it was too easy to get discouraged from not adhering. Reading about somebody else who embraces this aspect of themselves and have engineered a life around this is super helpful in finding how to engineer my “perfect life”. I grew up in a highly depressive environment and created horrible habits, so I’ve been working for about 5 years to reinvent my life and feel like this article is a great tool for me to further my quest!! Thanks so much for posting!

    Angela wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Hi Angela

      My past isn’t that dissimilar from yours, I was a pretty unhappy teenager and have an idea of what you are referring to.

      I’d like to offer encouragement and say; embrace your chaotic side, make incremental changes and see how they work for you. Over time it all gets better. The days all add up….

      Tweet me and let me know how it’s going for you :)

      Jack O wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • Angela & Jack, I’m also a freelancer with a restless spirit, & one of the things I love most about the primal approach is that it works so well with my curiosity & fits my many different moods.
        I still haven’t switched to a standing desk, but I do often stand to paint, & sitting all day now seems like torture. My main movement obsession is hoop dance, because it offers INFINITE variety, takes the kinks out of my spine & fills me with joy.

        Thanks for an intriguing & inspiring post!

        Paleo-curious wrote on May 28th, 2013
  18. Anybody interested in high-frequency protocols for weightlifting (instead of low-frequency aka 3X/wk) see: http://www.leangains.com/2009/09/making-high-frequency-training-work.html

    Greasing the Groove is a method to make use of Pavel’s so-called “synaptic facilitation” to get really, reallly good at a lift/motion, probably from muscle-memory gains that make the action smoother and the nerve impulses more coordinated/stronger.

    Nerve-based gains also come from very low-frequency, like doing your 1-3 rep max, which (unless a beginner) won’t give you more muscle but will nevertheless increase your strength via an improved neuromuscular connection.

    For me, chin-ups are quite hard so: http://www.cbass.com/Synaptic.htm

    Whitefox999 wrote on May 28th, 2013
  19. Jack, Loved the article. Especially the ‘not very inventive goals’ as it was my ‘wow’ moment. Mine are almost exactly the same (much less punchy) but I haven’t really been happy with them as I always felt they should be grander and more specific. But after you worded it so elequently, brilliantly and effeciently I will revives them and drop a key peice of the puzzle into place. Thanks mate… it made a big difference to me.

    The Club wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Anytime! so glad to hear it. This is what I wanted to achieve here.

      Jack O wrote on May 29th, 2013
  20. What I read and it seems to be coming to me in different directions. Is that one should stop to beat oneself up.
    Scheduling workouts, too many dietary rules etc are fine but not a means to an end.

    Thanks Jack

    Petra wrote on May 28th, 2013
  21. Loved the post, thank you. It goes in with the philosophy I used to have and I am heading back to, 20% effort gets you 80% gain. Most of us do not need 100% gain, we don’t get paid to do the 100 meters. ;D
    I am motivated to ease up again and get back to being healthy.

    David wrote on May 28th, 2013
  22. I’m enjoying these guest posts, Mark. Hope to see more contributors with interesting lifestyles like Jack.

    Pure Hapa wrote on May 28th, 2013
  23. Awesome article, I too am embarking on living a fuller, healthier, yet more frugal and balanced life. It’s such a fun challenge for my manic brain. Two fav websites are MDA and Mr Money Mustache. Love it mate, pull up bar and homemade standing desk here I come.

    Missybubu wrote on May 29th, 2013
  24. Great Article…..caveman stuff works for me Mon-Fri…..then the weekend, the junk carb eater comes to town! (pizza, curry etc) but it does work overall.
    Couldn’t agree more about freeing up time using technology….so many people are still scared of it….some of my friends still actually go to the bank!!! I free up at least an hour a day using phone/web where I used to do it ‘manually’
    And I am constantly on the declutter! Usually weekends & I call it ‘Cleansing of the Soul’….

    Cliff wrote on May 29th, 2013
  25. Hey Jack. What a great post. I am self employed with 4 different businesses and have been lamenting the number of times I need to switch gears each day as I put on “different hats”. Your post gave me the idea that all I need to do is embrace the diversity-use it as a strength. Great break through. Thanks!

    Anne K wrote on May 29th, 2013
    • Yes! All you can really be is yourself :)

      Jack O wrote on May 29th, 2013
  26. Whoo!! Fantastic contribution, Jack. I really enjoyed this read. Particularity about primal being a means to an end and not the end itself. Hope to see more posts from you on here soon.

    Kylie wrote on May 29th, 2013
  27. While I enjoyed the article, I admit to cringing when I saw the photo too. Sorry.

    Nathan wrote on May 29th, 2013
  28. Very good points in this article. I think counting calories in the beginning of a lifestyle change (I don’t like to call it a “diet”) is important until you get the hang of how many calories are in the foods you are eating. Once you get a feel for everything (the foods you are eating), and you learn how your body operates (including figuring our your maintenance level in calories), then you can adhere to quit counting calories.

    As I agree, counting calories becomes overwhelming and sooner or later you will quit, when your life doesn’t revolve around fitness.

    Again, nice article filled with a lot of good useful tips!

    Melissa wrote on May 29th, 2013
  29. Love the article, I personally moved 3000 miles away from home, into a condo with a roommate, platform bed, chest of drawers, and my clothes. I did this for work reasons (agronomist)I never lived in a condo before big difference so uncomfortable for me. I live right where I work so I sold my car and walk everywhere. I have been doing the backpacking thing for awhile now + the grocery thing also. I think the idea of more people carrying their own groceries home from the store, farmers market or where ever would change how people eat for the most part. Convenience stores don’t count! I have noticed that not being too comfortable produces interesting results. I also disdain gyms. I run the stairs in my condo, body weight exercises, workout in the park and now swim in the ocean. I cant beat my lifestyle, now I am going to work on creating the unconventional job within my field so I don’t have to get up a 4 am to be a work at 5. I feel like I am bragging but it all has made a difference and living with less inspires others to try it also. I am so involved and present in my life right now which is awesome so I get to weed out the idiots in my umm social life.

    Bernadette wrote on May 29th, 2013
  30. Hi Jack, fellow Surreyite here. I am very anti-racist and didn’t see anything offensive in pic. ‘Ain’t’ is a good old English word and double negatives are widely used even though they are grammatically incorrect. Your Englishness was apparently lost on the American audience.

    Loved your article. I have been struggling with willpower re sugar. I am now going to try to abandon the thought of willpower and focus on the end – being healthy – and trust that the means follows.

    viva55uk wrote on May 29th, 2013
    • Thanks viva55uk, whatever I do, someone gets pissed off, so I’m used to it :D

      Good luck with the sugar thing, as I say, try not to fight it, instead perhaps try to find ways to work around it?

      What you resist, persists, as they say…

      Jack O wrote on June 3rd, 2013
  31. This is where I feel like I’m heading… all summed up in Bruce Lee’s quote. I hacked away 30 lbs of inessential weight and I’m preparing my tiny house to live simply. You can see it clicking on my name…no ads and I’m not selling anything. Thanks for the article.

    Mike Troy wrote on June 1st, 2013
    • Woah, that really IS a tiny house! ^_^

      Jack O wrote on June 3rd, 2013
  32. Thanks Jack, for this great article. I am going to forward to my 19 year old son who is starting college this fall and intends to be a writer. He is too static (gamer and computer time) but would like to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Maybe this will help him avoid bad habits in college and develop some good ones. He lifts weights and it’s a very hilly, woodsy campus so he will get more exercise. I am teaching him to cook this summer because his college has dorms with kitchens. I know it will help him to learn from someone with experience in this matter.

    Jenni wrote on June 5th, 2013
  33. Jack, I just want to apolegize on behalf of all the trolls who are WAY off topic and apparently have no lives.

    Jenni wrote on June 5th, 2013
  34. So i’ve been trying so hard to find a cheap futon. I’ve ended up sleeping on just blankets on the floor for the past while, but I want a real futon. Do you mind sharing how you got yours? I hope it’s an online store. Trying to keep this cheap.

    Ryan wrote on June 6th, 2013
  35. I don’t think the pic is inherently racist (I certainly didn’t take it as such) and where did the homophobia comment stem from? Did I miss something in the article?

    Me thinks you need to quit trolling and trying to start fights where there’s no need to start them.

    Jacob wrote on May 28th, 2013
  36. Huh?! There is one image of a black woman that could be seen in a negative light. My reaction to it was positive, like “Right on!” I can’t see any homophobia at all, and I am very sensitive to that.

    Harry Mossman wrote on May 28th, 2013
  37. The image you are referring to is based on a popular internet meme. I suppose without context, people looking to be offended by anything/everything could nit-pick it into being something that it’s simply not. The woman in the picture even went on to do local commercials using the same phrase, and has expressed a great deal of joy and good humor about the fact that she is so popular for what she said. Lighten up and enjoy life, just like the post here suggests!

    George wrote on May 28th, 2013
  38. Seriously, dude? That is the lady that actually said the words “ain’t nobody got time for that”. She SAID them. So people took it and ran with it and use the meme for anything they see as a waste of time.

    People are way overly sensitive to what is seen as politically correct, or what they think should be.

    How are people suppose to be seen as people when some are very quick to put people in politically correct categories and then chastise people to walk on glass because of what THEY deem is ok or not for any particular group?

    How are rifts ever going to be healed when people keep on delineating and redefining the “battle” lines?

    Jane wrote on May 28th, 2013
  39. Propagating that picture, and the meme, is exploitative and while not intentionally racist, is latently racist, in my opinion. There are better photos he could have chosen.

    “weirded out by the idea of people watching me squat” is basically the equivalent of saying “don’t bend over to pick up the soap, wink wink.”

    Mark goes through such pains to make his site open to all people, I’m just surprised he allowed this kind of insensituve stuff through.

    Leafbiter wrote on May 28th, 2013
  40. I know the meme, and just because the woman who was of a certain socio-economic status chose to benefit from her celebrity does not change the fact that it is exploitative. Like I said, there are better choices…

    Leafbiter wrote on May 28th, 2013
  41. sorry.. spelling error… One does *not* bend over to do squats. Rendering that point of yours invalid as well.

    Lora wrote on May 28th, 2013
  42. Again, didn’t see anything homophobic about his comment. Saw it more as him not wanting to be seen making an idiot out of himself in the gym…or he just likes his privacy while he works out…I know I don’t like being crowded while I’m trying to lift weights.

    Again, me thinks you’re trying to put something there that simply isn’t. Like George said, quit nit-picking everything. That pic could have very well been of a white woman saying the same thing…would it have been racist then? Technically yes it could…as could ANY pic of any person regardless of color.

    Political correctness run amok….

    Jacob wrote on May 28th, 2013
  43. And since we’re nitpicking he said he didn’t want “people” – not MEN – watching him squat, so that could include women, rendering your homophobic argument invalid.

    Jacob wrote on May 28th, 2013
  44. One does now bend over to do squats. That would be bad form and result in injury! Head is up, back is straight… etc. I am also very self conscious working out in a gym in front of other people and much prefer to excercise in private. So I am guessing that is what he meant.

    Lora wrote on May 28th, 2013
  45. I really don’t think the “squat” comment was meant in the “bend over, wink wink” way. I don’t like ANY people watching me squat, bend, lift, push, or grunt in a gym either! It’s not a matter of being perceived in a sexual way, but rather in that I think I look (and sound) ridiculous. That’s the way I read Jack’s comment.

    That being said, I agree with you on the meme/photo. It’s pretty tasteless. But it may have been supplied by someone other than Jack.

    BonzoGal wrote on May 28th, 2013
  46. I disagree with you….“weirded out by the idea of people watching me squat” is basically the equivalent of saying “don’t bend over to pick up the soap, wink wink.” It is not the equivalent at all. Some of us are very private people who don’t want to be watched by anyone while we are working out. I think that’s all the writer was saying. I think you are overreacting and looking for problems where there are none.

    Karen M wrote on May 28th, 2013
  47. Say what!?

    Greg wrote on May 28th, 2013
  48. For the record, that was not my intent. Sense of humour: milage may vary…

    Jack O wrote on May 28th, 2013
  49. You bleeding hearts who think that the receiving—or more accurately, the taking—of offence is the worst thing that can happen to a person are going to bring about the end of Western civilisation. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”; 5-year–old children know this, and I’m sure Grok knew it too.

    What really gets me about this kind of nonsensical complaint is that 9 times out of 10, it involves someone getting offended on someone else’s behalf; i.e. if you yourself aren’t black, then there’s even less reason for you to find this article “offensive”. Boo hoo. Shut up.

    Malandro wrote on May 28th, 2013
  50. I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. ~ Bill Cosby

    Cal wrote on May 28th, 2013
  51. That’s such bullshit, man.

    Pure Hapa wrote on May 28th, 2013
  52. So very well said Jane! If people would look up the actual definition of racism, this doesn’t even fall into the criteria (the argument could be made for stereotyping, but that’s not what is being argued nor is it the same thing as racism).
    This knee-jerk reaction of so many people to label something as racist is ridiculous…perhaps THEY are the ones with some subconcious racist issues they need to sort out?

    Jacob wrote on May 28th, 2013
  53. Sorry Leafbiter, but I think may have some personal issues you really need to reflect upon honestly. I would be suprised if anyone from “a certain socio-economic status” would actually be offended by anything other than your comments!

    WelshGrok wrote on May 28th, 2013
  54. So what’s a “better” choice?? Are we really at a point where only old white males be depicted using slang? And what’s wrong with slang anyway, other than it being “low class” to a certain group? :(

    Amy wrote on May 28th, 2013
  55. No worries Octavia! Inch by inch it’s a cinch, as they say. Test new things and see what works for you :)

    Jack O wrote on May 28th, 2013
  56. Thank you Amy. I was wondering if a “better” choice would be a picture of my boss, an older white male. Though with my boss, the meme would end with an expletive. I have heard my boss, on several occassions, and well before the lady in picture made the news, utter the phrase “ain’t nobody got time for that sh*t!” More than once, it was to HIS boss. And yes, I do live in the south. I’m a southern transplant, college educated, and my dad was a journalist. I use “ain’t” on occassion and “y’all” far too often.

    b2curious wrote on May 29th, 2013

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