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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 10, 2010

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

By Mark Sisson
196 Comments

Yesterday I shared the desire to “look good naked” among my reasons for living Primally. A few readers seconded the logic. Though the point was in good fun, it wasn’t in jest. At 56 and counting, I happily take pride in my appearance. Although there’s a lot more to my life and self-confidence than appearance, I enjoy looking as dynamic as I feel. Although some might see the sentiment as vain, I’ll wholeheartedly stand by it. Although some might cry vanity at any focus on appearance (like my top ten admission), the wordsmiths say it’s more accurately “excessive pride” in one’s looks. But then, is one person’s perception of “excessive” the same as another’s? Is it a matter of kind, degree, or aim? We might balk at someone’s attention to perfect clothes or hair, but what about the same dedication to a great body?

Here in our MDA corner, we tend to focus on the strength, vitality and health parts of the PB. The Primal Blueprint book is similarly directed. I’d venture to say, however, that in the midst of these higher aims, all of us still want to LGN (look good naked). Are we all vain? Are we, in fact, hiding behind the façade of health and wellness when all we really want is to admire our incredible reflections in the full-length mirror while we dance around in our skivvies?

I think many of us would simply put that pleasure in context: health first, appearance – well, a welcome but secondary motivation. But what about others in our community who would put looks squarely if not solely on top? They might be as committed, meticulous, and enthusiastic as a PBer working his/her way off insulin. Would any of us begrudge these folks their choice to view the PB chiefly as a means to an aesthetic end? And for our collective self-inquiry, are we entirely honest about our own regard for the aesthetic benefits?

Strong Woman

The truth is, some of us might cringe at any “ripped” or “shredded” talk, putting it in the same jokey category as “buns of steel.” For some with a more traditional, modest style, the language can feel embarrassing or even unseemly. In fact, many people have felt at home with the PB because we talk about this aspect (and these images) relatively infrequently. But for many of us, particularly those who spent time in the bodybuilding or other hardcore fitness realm (and maybe still keep one foot in that arena), the language rings true and feels richly motivating. We might relish each subtle uptick in leg muscle tone. We might be gratified by the graceful lines of a lean, taut torso. We might take significant pride in the developing curves of our shoulders and arms. We love what the PB does for our body composition, allowing us to hone and maintain the attractive, “cut” physique we’ve always aimed for.

A great body reflects great health, you might say. The end result of the PB, of course, encompasses both benefits – whether we intend it/appreciate it or not. Six-pack abs can comfortably accompany a good glucose reading. A tight caboose can be the perfect complement to healthy blood pressure or resting heart rate. The fact that the PB offers serious aesthetic advantages doesn’t diminish its credibility as a health paradigm. Just as we all settle into our own Primal practice, maybe we all carve out our own vantage point in the Primal Blueprint rationale itself. There’s room in the tent for all of us – wherever we’ve chosen to place ourselves.

So, is looking good reason enough to do the PB? Absolutely, I’d say. More power to anyone so intentioned. Nonetheless, don’t expect to see the health news and commentary dry up here any time soon. The pursuit of wellness and vitality will always be the heart of the Blueprint and MDA, however it dovetails (or doesn’t) with more “outward” achievements. Funny thing, that old beer ad comes to mind now – the one with two sides shouting at each other in a competition between “tastes great” and “less filling.” A tongue-in-cheek but apt comparison, I think. In the Primal Blueprint realm, isn’t it great you don’t have to choose?

What’s your take on the aesthetic pursuit of the PB? Where would you say you are on the appearance-health spectrum in your Primal commitment?

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196 Comments on "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall"

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Chris
Chris
6 years 7 months ago

Because Gork couldn’t give his potential mate a blood panel, looks would be the only way he or she could judge a good mate. The outside does reflect whats going on inside.

JP M
JP M
6 years 7 months ago

i have seen small dudes be stronger than bigger dudes on a regular basis.

John S
John S
6 years 7 months ago

Large sarcoplasmic muscle development is generally considered far less attractive (and most definitely *is* far less functional) than dense, myofibril muscle development. A tapering athletic physique is universally attractive among humans, indicating that this form has the greatest innate value for our species’ traditional survival niche.

Jen
5 years 1 month ago

See also: Bruce Lee being a lot better looking than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

alex
alex
5 years 1 month ago

Bruce Lee and Arnold both look amazing and are inspiring.

I just want to look like me, an authentic expression of my unique genes.

Since going primal I am less worried/concerned about appearance but I appreciate all the compliments I get.

donna
donna
6 years 7 months ago

Mark

More pictures of you,please.Looking at them makes me feel….primal…

AlyieCat
AlyieCat
6 years 7 months ago

In primal land way long ago, I would think that Grok would have a lot of body fat in case famine set in.

The desire for no body fat seems to me to be quite anti-evolutionary, actually. In a famine, those with little body fat will die first.

Emily M.
Emily M.
6 years 7 months ago
A fatter Grok couldn’t provide for his family, which is why his mate would never select a fat Grok to be her one life’s partner. A slender more muscular Grok would attract the more desired female mate. However, your point about body fat being good for famine is true. If you look at what is attractive, the ideal woman’s body composition is generally about 10% higher than the ideal man’s, judging by what general society believes is beautiful. The reason why Grok finds a bit more body fat more attractive is that even should there be a famine during pregnancy,… Read more »
Rachel
Rachel
4 years 11 months ago

let’s make a distinction here. it’s one thing to be 50 lbs “overweight” and quite another to be within a healthy weight range but still not “ripped.” i think survival potential is increased if someone has a bit of fat above their “ripped” state, but is still well within their “normal” body fat range.

Immaterial
Immaterial
1 year 5 months ago
Actually, there have been several periods of time (as well as geographic locations) during which more body fat has been seen as more beautiful, and definitely more attractive in a partner. These times and places have been where the “extra body fat” might put a man up to 20% or more, and indicate that he is wealthy enough (or a good enough hunter) to eat more than he needs. In Fiji and the surrounding islands, the ruling classes have always been huge – marriages were made based on physical size in the royal family, not on royal bloodlines. The women… Read more »
John S
John S
6 years 7 months ago

Why would humans require famine survival traits that no other carnivorous species requires? Big cats, wolves, hyenas…none of these animals have significant body fat under any conditions other than domestication.

wd
wd
6 years 7 months ago

Served, cold!

Jen
5 years 1 month ago

Maybe there’s more to it than famine survival. How about cold weather (or the Ice Age for that matter?) All those other critters have fur to help them with keeping warm.

Presumably there’ll be some famines during cold weather as well, assuming one lives in an area with severe cold. I don’t see a lot of skinny polar bears.

FoCo Girl
FoCo Girl
5 years 1 month ago

Bears in general do appear a bit “fluffy” but take away their loose fitting hide and thick fur and there is hundreds of pounds of lean muscle. Not much fat really (one reason bear meat is some of the most “gamey”). Add to that the fact that humans lost their fur and grew a brain. We use our smarts to survive cold. The ability to hunt other animals and use their warm furs as well as make a fire were far more attractive to potential mates.

Robin
Robin
5 years 1 month ago

I think body fat in women is more about estrogen production. The two are directly linked, and if you do not have enough estrogen, then the natural cycle is interrupted ie. no reproduction.

britbrit05
britbrit05
2 years 9 months ago

I don’t think we need that much body fat. You’d die of vitamin deficiencies before you used up even a fraction of it.

Samson
6 years 7 months ago

It’s aboslutely not ‘vein’ to care about how you look. That’s something insecure people think/say as a copout for their lack. This life should be more of a hobby, you do it just for fun. Getting ‘ripped’ is a freaking fun hobby and I’d recommend everyone to take it up.

jpickett1968
6 years 7 months ago
Quickly put me down in the category of “there’ no crime in wanting to look good!” I do believe there is a lot to be said for what’s inside a person’s heart and mind; definitely don’t get me wrong there. But as a society of materialism, whether we want to admit it or not, that is what we are. What’s the first question we might ask someone at a social gathering – “so what do you do for a living?” We’re sizing up one another right off the bat. “What kind of car do we drive and what kind of… Read more »
Funkadelic Flash
Funkadelic Flash
6 years 7 months ago

You hit this one square on the head, jpickett! I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

Robin
Robin
5 years 1 month ago

I personally think someone who does a job they feel passionate about is more attractive than someone working a job just for a fat paycheck, but maybe that’s just me.

Joe
Joe
4 years 11 months ago

Agreed.

Jon
Jon
3 years 6 months ago

I agree with everything said, except that the American Dream in my opinion is not about getting a good, well paying job. Ownership is the American Dream, Free enterprise is what this country was founded on! Eating great and looking good is awesome though

Jon
Jon
3 years 6 months ago

I really like that quote

TomGreenwald
6 years 7 months ago

I can’t say that looking good isn’t important for me. My main priorities are feeling good and being strong/mobile and flexible. While looking good isn’t vitally necessary it’s still great to see a pleasant reflection in the mirror. 🙂 It can cheer you up and make you feel better.

Kent Hawley
Kent Hawley
6 years 7 months ago

I started living more Primally because I wanted the health benefits, but danged if I don’t want to look good, too! Just starting, so the looking good part will take some time, but it IS one motivation.

djinn
djinn
6 years 7 months ago
Hi, Mark Posting that “Stuff I read…” page was a huge service to the paleo community. On topic here, I totally agree about the (added) value of looking good. I started eating paleo/high fat to deal with my metabolic syndrome problems, and was very pleasantly suprised to note that I’d incidently lost 20 pounds. Not “dieting” – I’ve never counted a calorie in my life. The thing is, after about the third time a doctor or an aquaintance looked at me and said “What did you do?” I began to appreciate that instead of being just an ugly old man,… Read more »
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Bob
Bob
6 years 7 months ago

Looking better is a very nice side effect of living a primal life. Still, I try to keep my focus on health and performance first. As hard as we may work to avoid it, age will take its toll on our appearance. If we put too much stock into how we look, it can be very easy to become discouraged as we get a bit older. At 52, I’m feel like I’m still progressing rather than regressing, but I know at some point, the inevitable will begin to occur.

John Sifferman
6 years 7 months ago

I have always said that a beautiful physique comes as a by-product of excellent health and fitness, and I’m sticking by my guns – no pun intended 🙂

Matthew Odette
6 years 7 months ago

Looking good without a shirt on boosts confidence.. Nothing wrong with setting a goal based on good looks. Obviously, it shouldn’t be your only goal, that would be vain.

Allbeef Patty
6 years 7 months ago
As a fat guy, I’d be lying if I said that appearance isn’t a part of my motivation. But there’s a lot more to it than the mirror. I like that under my fat I can feel muscles beginning to form. Not for the sake of being “ripped,” but for the sake of becoming more of a functioning animal. Appearance is a byproduct of becoming that animal, but a pleasurable one. That being said, I look at my 230 pound body in the mirror and give my best Freddie Prinze, “Looking Good!”, because I remember the look of the 296… Read more »
Timothy
Timothy
6 years 7 months ago
Some mistake it for vanity, but it’s really the well-earned pride of the sculptor! Of all the benefits to going primal, the most deeply motivating has been watching my ab muscles become visible for the first time in life. That completely shattered my concept of what was possible with my body. Now that little muscles are popping out all over, I feel like I’ve crossed a psychological Rubicon over which I will never again retreat. After a month of PB, the mirror provides amazing proof that our DNA is not a set of handcuffs, but a treasure trove of potential… Read more »
Susan
Susan
6 years 7 months ago

I love your post! The analogy of one being a sculptor, and Carbs or Abs… great thoughts!

Claire Kellerman
3 years 9 months ago
Cheers to unlocking potential, the potential of the beauty of our Nature. In the extremes I have exhibited “LGN”=Looking Good Naked” & “NWTLWN”=Not Wanting To Look When Naked… I found the courage to reveal my outer beauty when I focused on clearing the confusions and false ideas that were not empowering me within. My body is a reflection of my Spirit’s ease. I could see in 70 extra pounds of fat I forcefully added to my former fashion-model frame that fat and depressed were unnatural, yet in the situation I found myself in they were survival tactics at that time.… Read more »
Melissa Joulwan
6 years 7 months ago
This is a really great topic! After lots of hard work, my body comp is finally healthy, but my vanity compels me to want to get leaner. On the vanity to health spectrum NOW, my primary goal is to get leaner for aesthetic reasons BUT when push comes to shove — when I want to skip a workout for a lame reason or eat something that’s not good for my body — the health motivation takes over. I find it much easier to stay true to eating well and training for health reasons — but my emotional motivation is that… Read more »
MF
6 years 7 months ago

Form follows function; there is no better arguement than that.

Keith
Keith
6 years 7 months ago

I believe that every single man and woman who is not a professional athlete exercise and eat healthy for the sole reason of looking better naked. Never before have I met someone who exercises or eats healthy to improve their health. People don’t want to admit it, but everyone does workouts and eats healthy for this one exclusive reason with health improvements being a nice side benefit.

Isabelle
Isabelle
6 years 7 months ago
I’d have to disagree. I think there are plenty of non-professional athletes out there who eat healthy and exercise from motivations other than looking good naked. I believe its a combination. For the most of us who are not professional athletes, we might still compete in sport activities and want to excel at what we do, in whatever level of competition we compete in, or want to reap the benefits of eating healthy and exercising for health reasons such a high cholesterol and such. While I’m not negating that looking good naked is a motivation factor, it is definitely not… Read more »
Matt
6 years 7 months ago
I would also disagree. Here’s the perfect example – what about someone doing physical therapy? Isn’t physical therapy at its essence just working out? Obviously its very targeted, but lifting weights is lifting weights. This is very much exercise for a purpose other than vanity. And then what about a guy I worked with a while back who had a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery, and so he quit eating fast food and started eating a lot more veggies. Again, this is someone eating better for reasons other than vanity. Of course there are people who eat better and… Read more »
Julie
Julie
6 years 7 months ago

Actually, physical therapy is much more than “just working out”. Sure, there are targeted exercises in some rehab programs, but physical therapy spans a wide range of treatment from pain relief, motor control reahb, gait training and overall functional training, and physical rehabilitation for a number of conditions that affect physical functioning (stroke, TBI, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, etc.)

CFS
CFS
6 years 7 months ago
You can’t have met many people then, because a lot of people exercise and eats healthy to improve their health. Understand that when I say ‘health’, I’m not talking about avoiding heart disease or cancer in twenty years, no. I’m talking about being able to eat a meal and not being plagued by heartburn for hours. I’m talking about being able to sit comfortably, lie comfortably, stand and not feel like your feet are on fire. I’m talking about having enough energy to survive the day and not having to take ten different medications. These things are worth much, much… Read more »
styrac
styrac
6 years 7 months ago

Agree Keith. Health is just the justification that protects us from sounding shallow. Its really all about wanting to look good.

Michael
Michael
6 years 7 months ago

cynics projecting cynicism.

Sandra
Sandra
6 years 7 months ago
I think it is the reverse for me. I am mid 40s female and was never athletic or strong. It is just getting too crazy at this point – I am a weakling and I’m tired of it. I stopped eating carbs and sugar because of an intestinal imbalance which was miserable. I started this whole thing three months ago because I felt terrible. I want to feel good. I want to be strong. I want to play with my grandkids when they come. I want to have an active, limited pain and illness life with my husband after my… Read more »
Kim
Kim
6 years 7 months ago

How do you explain amateur and rec athletes who choose a form that’s functional for their sport over one that’s conventionally “hot” then? Power lifters, et al?

Elizabeth
6 years 7 months ago
I’m one of the folks who spent a couple years on the low-fat/low-calorie/high-exercise bandwagon chasing after a lean look. And guess what? I got it. I was thin, had muscle definition, wore short-shorts with pride. I had a pretty good ego on me about it too. I thought I was hot stuff. But that kind of lifestyle takes its tole. I was thin, but I was miserable. I fit in skinny jeans, but I had regular bouts of depression and rage, plus massive sugar cravings. I looked great in a bikini, but inside I felt like I was falling apart.… Read more »
Natalie
Natalie
6 years 7 months ago
As a young woman who has spent way too much time since adolescence obsessing over being slim, and taking some unhealthy routes to get there, I am putting much more stock into my health. After frustrating times seeing doctors and nutritionists, I finally found my way out of conventional wisdom and the way to real health. I still want to achieve certain goals in shaping my body, but I won’t take good health for granted anymore, and really want to send this message to the men out there: appreciate all the beautiful women who make the effort and take good… Read more »
Jennifer
Jennifer
6 years 7 months ago

Amen!

Fixed gear
6 years 7 months ago
It’s not the man’s fault we want attractive women. Men, do NOT apologize for desiring physically attractive women! Attraction is NOT a choice. We are naturally drawn, dare I say COMPELLED to want to be with the “sports illustrated” girls you mock, because genetically speaking they SCREAM health. Our instincts draw us to want to procreate with someone who has a chance of actually producing a healthy baby. I for one REFUSE to apologize for that drive in me. I want to date hot women, because my genes compel me to! You say shallow, I say superior survival-of-the-species instinct.
Ryan
Ryan
6 years 7 months ago

Amen

Natalie
Natalie
6 years 7 months ago
I’m not faulting men for their desires. You have no reason to apologize for liking what you like. You misread me perhaps. I did not call men shallow for their desire for attractive women. I do not mock those super hot swimsuit models. I admire them and don’t mind that they give me something to strive for. BUT, in these modern times, I’d hope that men have evolved enough to override their instincts to appreciate the female who eats well and has a strong toned body, over the one that’s merely aesthetically pleasing. For all you know she might subsist… Read more »
Angelina
Angelina
6 years 7 months ago
I agree Natalie. And so does my husband. He looks at the skinny girls, and he understands the ‘instinct’ business, but he also knows that he has evolved from the primal thought patterns and cares more about a woman being healthy and happy than anything else. Before you think that I’m saying this because I am deluded into thinking this way about my husband because it makes me feel more secure – I am one of the skinny ones who would look good on a sports magazine (providing they replaced my head with someone elses :). But here is where… Read more »
Amy
Amy
6 years 7 months ago

Just FYI, even the healthiest, hottest women may not be as fertile as you assume.

Julie
Julie
6 years 7 months ago

I agree. Most of those models are chain-smoking, less than healthy women.

Michael
Michael
6 years 7 months ago

Yeah, I agree. As a teen I was culturally conditioned to be attracted to those types of women/girls but now that I have some more intuitive sense in me I do not find them attractive. It is in fact kind of repulsive if you see a woman so thin you suspect they are missing their period.

FlyNavyWife
6 years 7 months ago

This!!!

And I personally had wrestled with the idea that I needed to get down to 120 pounds before trying to have a baby… but then when I got pregnant at 130 pounds and quickly lost 8 pounds due to nausea and food aversions?
Well, let’s just say I’m glad I had 8 pounds to lose!!! If I had been at significantly lower body fat who knows – maybe I would’ve lost my baby because my body wouldn’t have been able to provide for it while I wasn’t eating well.

erik.cisler
erik.cisler
6 years 7 months ago

I’d argue that male attraction to the emaciated waif with massive breasts is manufactured, and rather recent. Give me a woman with hips, more (m)ass on the lower body, and a decent amount of cushion. Makes for more viscerally pleasing intimate time, better overall health, and greater fertility.

Michael
Michael
6 years 7 months ago

Amen

jojo
jojo
6 years 7 months ago
Dude, if the women in Sports Illustrated “SCREAM health” to you, then you haven’t been around many healthy women. And that wouldn’t be surprising, since girls and women are taught that those skinny (not strong or fit) models are what they should aim to look like. Those models are classic examples of “skinny fat”. On a slightly different note, I agree with Mark and others on the point that vanity often plays a large role in our motivation to eat well and exercise. But for women in particular, the link between the two is super important. When women – most… Read more »
Angelina
Angelina
6 years 7 months ago

Amen.

Melissa
Melissa
6 years 7 months ago

While improved health and vitality are great and all, it’s not usually what keeps my hand outta the cookie jar.

Diane
Diane
6 years 7 months ago
I totally look better naked – who looks good with bathing suit strings tied around your hips or tank top straps digging into your shoulders anyhow? Unless you’re really ripped, everyone is going to have some “done lap” when it comes to lycra (because lycra doesn’t lie!) I wasn’t wholly uncomfortable walking around a nudist resort for the first time a year ago, but since dumping 25 pounds on PB, I definitely fall in the “average” category now. I’ll take that! I’ll also take that i’m still losing weight without having time to do anything much physically because of my… Read more »
Krystal
Krystal
6 years 7 months ago
Where you mention people calling it “excessive pride,” I first read it as ‘expressive’ pride, and thought “oh, that’s maybe a nice way to put it,” before realizing you meant that as a negative view people have. It’s not actually what you meant, but maybe it would be a new take on how to look at it. One should have some amount of pride in themselves, and by making efforts to take care of yourself, you coiuncidentally end up looking good, and so you end up inadvertantly silently, outwardly expressing pride in yourself by what is visually seen of your… Read more »
Brad
Brad
6 years 7 months ago
It’s funny because when I go out to eat with people they see me eat twice as much as they do yet I’m only 5’10, 145lbs and they freak. They ask how I do it and I say well I was blessed with a naturally fast metabolism, but look at what I am eating, and look at what you’re eating. And of course who isn’t proud of their hard earned abs? I know I am, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Do I walk around all day without a shirt on? No, because there’s a difference between being proud… Read more »
Richard Nikoley
6 years 7 months ago

Mark:

I have to register my disappointment. I came over here fully expecting a not-work-safe post…well, at least for the fairer gender. 🙂

Lima
Lima
6 years 7 months ago
“While the animal is anesthetized, the upper brow and ear are smeared with rouge. Upon awakening, the animal is exposed to a mirror. Experimenters observe whether the mirror occasions species-specific social behavior. If the animal instead investigates his or her body and touches the rouge-marked location, such behavior is interpreted as evidence of “self-awareness.” When I wake up in the morning, I like to stand in front of the mirror and check out my muscles. It’s not so much fun looking in the mirror after a night of Neolithic binging—the little vasularity I’ve developed starts to get swallowed in a… Read more »
styrac
styrac
6 years 7 months ago

Well put.

mike
mike
6 years 7 months ago
I’m really happy for the health and if health was not part of this lifestyle there is no way that I would put my health in jepordy for good looks. However my gradual and consistant weight gain was my primary reason for going primal. I am happy that I’ve now lost almost 20lbs in two months, and that I’ve backed off the ledge of having to buy a new wardrobe. I’m happy that I can wear and be comfortable in shirts that I’ve not worn in a year or more. But there is a line where pride turns into arrogance,… Read more »
April Cicora
April Cicora
6 years 7 months ago

Go vanity! Motivation need not be organic in nature. If looking better gets folks thinking then I for one think it should be embraced.

Suzan
6 years 7 months ago

After years of being overweight, yes, I do want to look good naked when I reach my goal weight, in addition to enjoying optimum health and energy. There is no shame in wanting to look good. Vanity is when we put that pursuit above all others, which I don’t.

Mike Cheliak
6 years 7 months ago

I am relatively new to the PB but I really do think that both health and appearance tend to walk hand in hand to some degree. Dedication to a cleaner and more fit lifestyle is bound to bring about positive changes in both health and appearance.

I focus on the bigger picture of continued dedication to becoming more and more primal and the results will manage themselves.

Christy
Christy
6 years 7 months ago
I would LOVE to LOVE walking around completely naked and feel good about my body! I have been regularly exercising for almost one year in April. I have lost 15 lbs and would like to lose at least 10-15 more. I really focus on my legs with weights and cardio, but I still have ripples and dimples on my thighs and bottom. I have shrunk in inches, but would love to lose the ripples. ANy suggestions? I will keep at the exercising because it makes me happy! I have been 75-150 carb primal since Jan 18th with maybe three cheat… Read more »
FlyNavyWife
6 years 7 months ago

someone tweeted this a bit back:
http://completebody.wordpress.com/interviews/celluliteanalyst/

And I don’t know if it’s total bullsh*t or not but…
Basically says that poor quality fats like trans fats and vegetable oils can in a way cause cellulite, and that eating healthy fats can help it go away.

Just passing along a link… dunno if it’s valid or not, but wouldn’t that be nice?

Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago

Great post.

We cannot forget the innate human instinct to appreciate aesthetic beauty. The art in architecture is essential for the development of humanity — otherwise the entire world would still live in mud-huts and conditions of near-anarchy.

I appreciate visual beauty, in a building, in a painting, or in the human body.

Best,
Johnny

Tyler
Tyler
6 years 7 months ago

I think “mud huts” can have beautiful architecture- certainly nicer looking than your average too close together/all alike/low quality housing complex. I think Grok would have more appreciation for “mud huts” and anarchy (small family groups) than for housing developments and our corrupt corporate controlled fake democracy.

Tyler
Tyler
6 years 7 months ago

In fact, I would argue that the mental health, humanizing, and low stress benefits of social anarchy (what all hunter gatherer societies practice) should be an integral part of the primal blueprint.

Ben
Ben
6 years 7 months ago

Seconded!

Sparrow
Sparrow
5 years 1 month ago

What I learned in my poli sci classes (whether true or not) is that tribal societies are not anarchistic; they exhibit what political scientists call a “fused society.”

What this means is that there is no separation between church, state, and home. Religion (usually animistic for a tribal society) and government and home life are so interconnected that they cannot be separated. The notion of “personal privacy” is nearly non-existant.

This is about as far opposite from anarchy as it gets.

Lean Couture
6 years 7 months ago

OK, I agree that mud huts can look better than row-like, low-quality housing complex.

But I’ll take the architecture of a well-machined society over anarchy any day. Anarchy lowers everyone’s average life expectancy. No thanks.

Best,
Johnny

Claire Kellerman
3 years 9 months ago
I love this. Grok would love super adobe (calearth.org) I build these beautiful curving, arches & Earth Art & Architecture homes, domes & community gardens (on Maui now), and the first time I showed a more materially-minded, 5-star-living Soul the 16 beautiful domes and homes I’d built from earth on site they said, “Who would want a mud hut?” I was surprised. I only ever saw simplicity with infinite creativity, a dignified and community-building project for the world’s homeless and a future home I could build with my own hands to whatever aesthetic I desired — they are energy efficient… Read more »
Fixed gear
6 years 7 months ago
I do wonder how “ripped” Grok would be if he had an abundant food supply. Like 12 months with no lean times (which in itself of course is not natural). I wonder, because I found it ridiculously easy to drop down to about 14% (for a man) by just eating primal. And then the weight just stopped coming off completely. I’d have to go hungry at night or use I.F. days to get ANY more weight to budge. It got me thinking, that in the absence of unatural, insulin spiking foods, your body “likes” to carry a small amount of… Read more »
chris
chris
6 years 7 months ago

Agreed! Evolution favors the quick, strong and durable; which wouldn’t mean ripped, six-pack abs. If you’ve ever gone on long backpacking trips you know that bulking up before the trek is essential. Grok could pinch-an-inch in autumn, no-doubt.

I, as well prefer flat stomachs on a female not ripped.

John S
John S
6 years 7 months ago

Among our best modern hunter-gatherer examples of what Paleo man probably would have looked like, the Kung San and pre-modern Australian aboriginals, body fat is typically either very small or else only barely to the point of visually obscuring some abdominal definition.

chris
chris
6 years 7 months ago

A simple image search of the !Kung, Austro-aboriginals or any other HG peoples illustrates a body type drastically different from the two images Mark used for today’s post. Grok did not look like either of those images-sorry.

John S
John S
6 years 7 months ago

Nonetheless, they weren’t “pinching an inch”. Most have either visible abdominal muscle separation, or barely obscured, yet still firm, abdominals. They definitely aren’t carrying around a famine-pot. Ultra-low body fat is just an overexaggeration of a very natural body aesthetic that’s hard wired into our attraction psychology.

chris
chris
6 years 7 months ago

Forgive me for belaboring the difference but I still contend that these HG peoples are not “ripped”. While they’re certainly trim they’re not the fitness-models that contemporary Americans seem to dream about.

Compare the following picture-link of Kunk women to the image above (I see an inch to pinch):

http://fotobank.ru/image/JW01-1671.html

John S
John S
6 years 7 months ago

Women are certainly adapted to carry higher body fat than males, so the female model is especially unrealistic. But I think main point of confusion with male fitness (especially the model posted here) is that abdominal hypertrophy is mistaken for ultra low BF. His body fat isn’t any lower than the average hunter-gatherer, he just spends alot of time doing weight bearing abdominal exercises, which don’t generally occur in nature.

chris
chris
6 years 7 months ago

jsadberry
6 years 7 months ago

Indigenous N. Americans are/were not a good example of Grok because they had long domesticated and subsisted heavily on corn. Most were in fact very *poor* examples of physical health. The closest examples to Paleo man would have been some of the pre-colonial hunting tribes of the great plains, who were interestingly featured for their great height and general health at the Columbian Exposition Fair in 1893:

http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/tallind.htm

chris
chris
6 years 7 months ago
“Ripped” is not the adjective that comes to mind when viewing most H/G peoples. “Trim” yes, “Fit” absolutely, “Ripped” no. The fitness models that grace the covers of today’s “Health” magazines as well as the two photo-examples used above do not resemble the Ainu, Inuit, Semang, Hiwi, etc, etc. Most hunter-gatherers are beautifully healthy, slim and fit. But we find many examples of HG peoples in the 10-12% BF range not the 7% BF of the physique depicted on the splash page of this blog entry. The majority of people who work-out and “eat right” fantasize about looking like a… Read more »
jsadberry
6 years 7 months ago
This is really all a matter of genetics..the level of equilibrium that an individual will reach in terms of muscle mass, sub-cutaneous fat and overall fat storage pattern. West Africans tend to be much leaner and more muscled than most sub-Saharans. Asians (and by consequence, Native Americans) tend to have much more sub-cutaneous fat, but more even overall fat distribution. I personally have very low body fat and high muscle mass just from eating and don’t need to lift weights much or do much exercise of any kind really. Natural equilibrium is a personal thing. From what we know about… Read more »
Natalie
Natalie
6 years 7 months ago

Hey – just been checking out fat bastard.
I’ve been playing around with IF, going longer in the day before I eat anything. Like today, it’s almost 5pm, and the last time I ate was 9pm yesterday.

But I’m impressed with the results you are experiencing with going every other day without eating, and your consistency. I’m inspired to try it out.

Maybe being a woman will give me different results, but we’ll see.

Congratulations on your achievements!

Krystal
Krystal
6 years 7 months ago

In response to that last bit (and I think Darcy mentions this further down, too) I have to admit, as someone new to this idea, that woman’s torso pic also kinda scared me. If I follow this whole blueprint and prescribed exercise regimen, am I to turn out that sculpted, or can I just be lean, fit, with a smooth tummy? Because that would be preferable.

Nancy
Nancy
6 years 7 months ago

You don’t need to follow the whole blueprint. I’ve had amazing improvements in my health (no more headaches, joint aches or bloating) by following the PB food plan. I’ve also lost a few pounds. I can’t do the “lift heavy things” because of some neck problems, but I do try to walk lots, sprint some, and I do Mark’s “not really abs exercises” when I’m driving around in my car. Between the few pounds lost and the “not really exercises” I can now see a faint outline of my abs, which is just fine with me.

kevin k
kevin k
6 years 7 months ago

I have a questions for mark…

What is your personal workout routine. Is it too much if i work out every day?

Have you posted anything in the past about your workout routine? If so could you direct me to a page or a “title” of what i should look for.

thanks

kev

trackback

[…] all the ‘health and fitness malarky’ [their words not mine] came up this week and a timely post by Mark, over at Mark’s daily apple, made me think perhaps I should clarify my ideal and what […]

damaged justice
damaged justice
6 years 7 months ago

While I’ve been battling that last stubborn inch of belly for over a year, I long ago decided that being healthy was ultimately more important, and that some things — carb cycling, grazing, or injecting pregnant mare’s urine — aren’t worth the risks, regardless of whether some reasonably intelligent people (Lyle McDonald, Matt Stone) recommend them.

Part of maturity is recognizing that perfection is unattainable, while never seeking to admire its manifestations and to strive for improvement.

damaged justice
damaged justice
6 years 7 months ago

Scuse me, ‘while never FAILING TO admire its manifestations’.

pieter d
pieter d
6 years 7 months ago
I think looking good could also relate to the parenting issue from a few posts ago. When your children start puberty, they rebel against their parents, but they are very sensitive for appearance. I hope that, when my sons are that age, they will look at their mom and dad, and somehow get some motivation to eat and live the primal way. By the way, I’ve noticed that without preaching about the primal/paleo/evolutionary way, people have noticed me being in shape and ask some questions. I always say it starts with eating lots of fat. That gets their attention, as… Read more »
Debbie
6 years 7 months ago

Like Elizabeth, I had the skinny jeans and bikinis when I was younger along with the depression, rage, and never feeling that I was as good as I could be. Since 50 hit almost a decade ago, I have fought weight gain, colon cancer, fallen arches, depression, etc., etc. I found PB and EVERYTHING is getting better every day!!! I know I won’t look like I did in my 20’s, 30’s, or even 40’s, but I will be the BEST THAT I CAN BE!!!!

FlyNavyWife
6 years 7 months ago

Debbie this is awesome that everything is getting so much better for you with PB!!!! Congrats.

Hugh
6 years 7 months ago

There is no crime to like the way you look! Looking fit and trim is a result of damn hard work, discipline, and consistency. It’s certainly not an easy thing to achieve. Looking fit is in a way a reward for all that hard work.

But one caveat here – you are not your body. You’re not what you do and you’re not what you look like.

Darcy
Darcy
6 years 7 months ago
Well, I really don’t want to look like the woman pictured in today’s post, but I’d still like to see much less of myself in the mirror, that’s for sure. Partly out of vanity, but much more because seeing less of myself in the mirror means not just overall better health, but also that I’m not getting in my own way so much (some yoga moves are simply not possible with a big butt!), not stressing out my joints so much, physical activity in general is more fun, and clothes that fit well are easier to find. I could go… Read more »
Tanktop
Tanktop
6 years 7 months ago
As a personal trainer I started eating Primal to be an example for my clients, and also improve my health and live a healthier lifestyle. A by product of eating better was a significant drop in my body fat percentage, thus making me even leaner than I already was. I dropped from about 165 lbs to 157 lbs in about 4-6 weeks. When I eat this way I just naturally drop to where I am supposed to be, its freaking amazing. I could eat enough for two people if I wanted to, but it doesn’t matter (trust me I’ve tried… Read more »
Melissa Joulwan
6 years 7 months ago

One of the things I like best about eating/living this way is that for the first time ever, I feel like I have control over my body fat comp. I know the course I have to take if I want to ‘get ripped.’ That’s a very exciting, empowering feeling after a lifetime of being overweight/obese and feeling like a failure because tons of cardio and an ultra-low-fat, high-carb diet that was “supposed to work” didn’t.

Mike Rapoza
6 years 7 months ago

C’mon. How will you take pride in more energy, better health, better strength, but just look past the fact that you are leaner and more muscular? A vibrant, strong, healthful appearance is just one other consequence of living primally. If anyone is embarrassed by this byproduct, why not be ignore the others as well? Our bodies are indicative of how we live and how we feel and they are as much a part of us as our energy, our emotions, or our minds. I say take pride!

katbarnett16
katbarnett16
6 years 7 months ago

Looking good in the mirror is definitely a motivation to live this lifestyle, I must admit. I, like Mark, want to look as dynamic as I feel and I do! It shows outwardly how hard and dedicated I am and is a great way to advertise to others what they too can achieve.

Ben K
Ben K
6 years 7 months ago

Agreed. I’ve never met anyone who wanted to look and feel bad. I’ve added 20 lbs in 4 months and dropped to just below 10% body fat. My reflection in the mirror, the way my clothes fit, and the comments people have made are the reward of how I live my life.

Mike Rapoza
6 years 7 months ago

That said. Let’s not, of course, focus on the aesthetic. That’s so 80’s. And putting too much focus on the aesthetic has led to drug use, eating problems, and lame gym culture all over the world. 🙂

Johanna Lamb
Johanna Lamb
6 years 7 months ago
I do not think that it is vain. I think the mirror reflects what is working- for example- I have PCOS and struggle with acne. When I’m eating 100% Paleo (with no nuts) my face is clear and radiant. If I have a cupcake at a party and snack on some almonds at work and maybe even have ice cream after a long week, my face shows it. Caring about how we look is not vain, it is being in tune with our body that we are really doing what is best and listening to the feedback it gives us.
Katerina
Katerina
6 years 7 months ago

Johanna, I’m curious- I myself have PCOS as well, and I’m just wondering what it is about nuts that cause you problems? Or is it something that you just know through experience? (I cut out fruit & nuts about a week and a half ago.. and half noticed a huge improvement in my cystic acne)

-Katerina

Katerina
Katerina
6 years 7 months ago

my bad… *have noticed*

Marc
6 years 7 months ago

At almost 43, I’m very proud that my kids friends’ think that their dad is buff 😉

I’m even more proud that my kids think I look better then all their friends dads.

Looking good is big part of my primal motivation, I’m sure this will change as I mature. Happy to be shallow for now 😉

Marc

lifewithjades
6 years 7 months ago

I agree! My appearance is a huge motivation for me. Matter of fact, it is what first brought me to a better way of health- and then my interest in doing the right thing and finding true health for myself took over…….I’m looking forward to my taut tummy!

SerialSinner
SerialSinner
6 years 7 months ago

In my life, I have found that the degree to which many people complain about “shallowness” or vanity tends to be indirectly proportional to how good these people look.

styrac
styrac
6 years 7 months ago

Yes.

Francisco
Francisco
6 years 1 day ago

haha indeed.

Carla
6 years 7 months ago

I have to admit that a big reason why I changed my habits was to look better and lose weight. But on the days that I don’t care what I look like and want to give up, that’s when I remind myself of the other improvements I’m enjoying such as reduced asthma symptoms, less bloating, no more binges, and increased energy. These benefits are a big part of my motivation also.

Aaron Fraser
6 years 7 months ago

Vanity is what drives us. We can layer up as much poetry and sophistication surrounding humanity as we like, but in the end that reptilian part of us that wants to be fruitful and multiply is going to be the root influence of all we do.

Looking ‘better’ generally means looking fertile, resilient and capable – all things you look for in a prospective mate.

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