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

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

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?

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. 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.

    Chris wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • i have seen small dudes be stronger than bigger dudes on a regular basis.

      JP M wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • 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.

        John S wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • See also: Bruce Lee being a lot better looking than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

          Jen wrote on August 10th, 2011
        • 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.

          alex wrote on August 10th, 2011
    • Mark

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

      donna wrote on February 11th, 2010
  2. 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.

    AlyieCat wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • 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, Grok’s mate would be able to carry his offspring to term.

      Emily M. wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • 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.

        Rachel wrote on October 14th, 2011
      • 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 are typically around 6’3 and 250+lbs; the men even larger. They are seen as beautiful (though I highly doubt you would agree).

        Looks are inherently cultural, and in almost every culture, the looks that are preferred are the ones that require more time and effort to acquire. They display a level of wealth that indicates that the person can afford to waste hours each day on their appearance.

        Heck, even in America in the 70s, women were advertised products to put weight on – google “wate-on” or even just “70s weight gain ads” if you want to see some. Cultural bias is incredibly changeable, and assuming current fashions are eternal is… somewhat foolish, shall we say :)

        Immaterial wrote on April 27th, 2015
    • 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.

      John S wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • Served, cold!

        wd wrote on February 11th, 2010
      • 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.

        Jen wrote on August 10th, 2011
        • 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.

          FoCo Girl wrote on August 10th, 2011
        • 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.

          Robin wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • 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.

      britbrit05 wrote on December 3rd, 2013
  3. 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.

    Samson wrote on February 10th, 2010
  4. 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 house do we own (or seek to own!)?” Whether we like it or not, we are judged by what we do and how much we make. We may really love our jobs, but the end result is often the dollars we make from that job – an ends to the mean.

    Taking pride in one’s appearance is no different. Eating primal, knowing the food you take in is healthy and helps you to live a longer life is awesome. But also knowing it makes you look the best at the local pool is also very rewarding.

    Having a great job that makes great money is a large part of the American Dream. So why then should eating good and looking great be any different? Looking great reinforces you to eat well just as making lots of money (usually) makes you more satisfied with your job. Where’s the problem here?

    Not only does looking healthy translate into higher self-esteem, it also speaks about your character. By taking care of yourself and looking fit, it can show others you are responsible, hard-working and active.

    To quote Robert Schuller, “The me I see is the me I’ll be.” I have to admit that when I’m at the gym, the me I see who is lean, more muscled and fit is much more appealing than the me I was. Any naysayers can call me vain if they like, but chances are they’re unhappy. And guess why…

    jpickett1968 wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • You hit this one square on the head, jpickett! I couldn’t agree more. :)

      Funkadelic Flash wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • 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.

      Robin wrote on August 12th, 2011
      • Agreed.

        Joe wrote on October 14th, 2011
    • 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 wrote on March 8th, 2013
      • I really like that quote

        Jon wrote on March 8th, 2013
  5. 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.

    TomGreenwald wrote on February 10th, 2010
  6. 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.

    Kent Hawley wrote on February 10th, 2010
  7. 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, I am now an ugly old man who looks good. (relatively, of course. I’m Art De Vany’s age.) It’s a big psychological lift, and adds a lot to the overall effect on health and probably longevity. Fortunately, it’s in addition to, not instead of! In any case, good post. Nuthin’ wrong with lookin’ gooood.

    djinn wrote on February 10th, 2010
  8. 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.

    Bob wrote on February 10th, 2010
  9. 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 :-)

    John Sifferman wrote on February 10th, 2010
  10. 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.

    Matthew Odette wrote on February 10th, 2010
  11. 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 pound body. Most people who see me naked would say, “Eeewwww.”

    Allbeef Patty wrote on February 10th, 2010
  12. 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 waiting to be unlocked.

    Carbs or abs? An easy decision once you’ve tried it!

    Timothy wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • I love your post! The analogy of one being a sculptor, and Carbs or Abs… great thoughts!

      Susan wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • 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. I moved far from toxic outer influences, left sugary disaster-foods at the stores. I listened within, and there it was…my true health, true beauty & a joy that can only come from living Universal truths, for me. Just beginning Primal exploration recently after 25 yrs wellness dance, loving the community here, the feeling of being wellfed, inspired artistically, and sweetly energized. My heart is happy. People keep telling me — twice in a row– “you really are glowing.” I can feel it, so looking good starts with self-care for me today.

      Claire Kellerman wrote on December 3rd, 2012
  13. 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 I want to look good naked.

    Melissa Joulwan wrote on February 10th, 2010
  14. Form follows function; there is no better arguement than that.

    MF wrote on February 10th, 2010
  15. 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.

    Keith wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • 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 the sole factor.

      Isabelle wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • 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 exercise solely for vanity, but people’s reasons vary greatly.

      Matt wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • 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.)

        Julie wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • 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 more than good looks.

      CFS wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • Agree Keith. Health is just the justification that protects us from sounding shallow. Its really all about wanting to look good.

      styrac wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • cynics projecting cynicism.

        Michael wrote on February 11th, 2010
    • 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 kids are gone. We have four, the youngest is 12 and I’m telling you I am planning for the season ahead with great anticipation.

      At my age, for me, it’s more about all of that, than my look. Today my massage therapist said, “you lost weight, and you look lean. I can tell you’ve been working out.”

      How gratifying, and she would know!


      Sandra wrote on February 11th, 2010
    • 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?

      Kim wrote on February 25th, 2010
  16. 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.

    So I switched to real foods and gained some weight. Still not overweight, but no where close to where I was. After a while I tried going in for a more primal, low-carb diet. It was great for about 6 weeks, lost a couple pounds (though nowhere near what I thought I should for eating so well), then suddenly I turned into my formal emotional-wreck self, with caffeine and sugar cravings off the chart. *Not* a desirable side effect.

    I raised my carbs back up to normal moderate levels (like 150/day), and gained more than I lost just from eating normally. But I feel 100x better, no sugar/caffeine cravings, way more emotionally stable.

    So I’m trading the super-lean look for a more average weight and a much better sense of well-being. Right now I just don’t feel like I can have both. Maybe in the future I’ll be able to have my cake and eat it too (not literally), but until then I’d rather have health than just look good without health.

    Elizabeth wrote on February 10th, 2010
  17. 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 care of themselves yet still don’t have what it takes to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.

    Natalie wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • Amen!

      Jennifer wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • 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.

      Fixed gear wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • Amen

        Ryan wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • 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 on a diet of burgers and fries.

        Natalie wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • 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 I agree with Elizabeth. My health is not so great. It is why I am now starting the primal diet in the hope to find good health. My husband also wants me to find good health, fitness, and be happy. He does not care if I no longer look the way I do now in order to achieve this.

          Angelina wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • Just FYI, even the healthiest, hottest women may not be as fertile as you assume.

        Amy wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • I agree. Most of those models are chain-smoking, less than healthy women.

          Julie wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • 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.

          Michael wrote on February 11th, 2010
        • 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.

          FlyNavyWife wrote on February 11th, 2010
      • 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.

        erik.cisler wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • Amen

          Michael wrote on February 11th, 2010
      • 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 women, anyway – begin to get truly fit (strong, fast, agile) with proper training and diet, their bodies change, and not necessarily (and not often) into the skinny supermodel image. Yet, they for the first time begin to love their bodies. They may even weigh more than they have in the past, be bigger in some places (though smaller in others) and enjoy it because they’ve finally learned to value what they can do and how their bodies perform more than how they look. It’s a big aha moment that I’ve seen many times.

        jojo wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • Amen.

          Angelina wrote on February 11th, 2010
  18. While improved health and vitality are great and all, it’s not usually what keeps my hand outta the cookie jar.

    Melissa wrote on February 10th, 2010
  19. 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 seasonal job.

    The great thing about PB is you absolutely know what food is going to cause you grief and it’s up to you whether you decide to put it in your mouth or not. For me this is so much better than doing some Pound Peekers program, writing down points and wondering WTF happened during a week where I gained weight and didn’t eat all my points.

    But in all, i really am doing this for my health – nakedness is just a benefit! :)

    Diane wrote on February 10th, 2010
  20. 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 body. (That got a little verbose there). Anyway, I thought I’d share my accidental mis-read with you, because I thought it might be kindof appropriate in a more positive way.

    BTW, I am not actually a PBer yet, and have never posted before. I actually just heard about this lifestyle when the Hunter-Gatherer guy was a guest on the Colbert Report recently. I was interested, visited his site, which led me here, and have been reading through all your articles for the last couple of days, trying to get this all figured out so that I might attempt starting the blueprint in my own life soon. So though I’m not an official member of your circle, I hoped my little comment and way of looking at it might at least be slightly beneficial or encouraging to someone… and I’m really intrigued by what I’m learning here so far. Hopefully soon I can be a more active participant.
    Thanks, and Happy Day :)

    Krystal wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • Welcome, Krystal. It’s nice to have you and thanks for the comment!

      Mark Sisson wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • Thank you! I look forward to hanging around as I learn more and work my way through it.

        Krystal wrote on February 10th, 2010
  21. 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 and flaunting, but I’ll gladly show you and tell you how I do it.

    Brad wrote on February 10th, 2010
  22. 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. :)

    Richard Nikoley wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • Ah, sorry to disappoint, Richard. MDA’s version of NSFW is No Such Fat Worries.

      Mark Sisson wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • Ha! Yea, probably even less work safe than full frontal!

        Richard Nikoley wrote on February 10th, 2010
  23. “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 layer of fat. Yuck. I’ll take my self-awareness with a side of pride, thank you.

    Lima wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • Well put.

      styrac wrote on February 10th, 2010
  24. 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, and dedication turns into idolatry. Same way that an occasional glass of wine can become abuse. What determines that boudnary? My answer won’t be welcomed 😉

    mike wrote on February 10th, 2010
  25. Go vanity! Motivation need not be organic in nature. If looking better gets folks thinking then I for one think it should be embraced.

    April Cicora wrote on February 10th, 2010
  26. 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.

    Suzan wrote on February 10th, 2010
  27. 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.

    Mike Cheliak wrote on February 10th, 2010
  28. 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 days! Just wondering if my body will totally one day transform or will I always be bumpy?? 42 years old 4 boys and don’t want to be fat and ripply!!

    Christy wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • someone tweeted this a bit back:

      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?

      FlyNavyWife wrote on February 11th, 2010
  29. 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.


    Lean Couture wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • 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 wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • 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.

        Tyler wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • Seconded!

          Ben wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • 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.

          Sparrow wrote on August 10th, 2011
      • 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.


        Lean Couture wrote on February 11th, 2010
      • I love this. Grok would love super adobe ( 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 using the wind and earth walls for heating and cooling. 105 in the desert, cool inside all day…Mud huts can have beautiful architecture integrating the benefits of the beauty of our Nature. Thanks for saying, Tyler.

        Claire Kellerman wrote on December 3rd, 2012
  30. 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 bodyfat naturally for those lean times. For me at least, if I eat all the primal foods I want, my body seems to level off around 14% bf. Healthy, but certainly not “ripped”. I’m absolutely working to get to a ripped 7% or so. But it seems like you’d have to be vigilant to stay there because your body does “want” that small cushion to survive the next famine. How long would Mark last in a famine, ya know?? I want ‘ripped’ for vanity’s sake, but for survival’s sake it’s probably not a good thing. Oh – and that female torso? NOT hot. Girls are supposed to have SOME fat. Smooth flat stomach, much sexier than “abs” on a girl, IMHO.

    Fixed gear wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • 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.

      chris wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • 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.

        John S wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • 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.

          chris wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • 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.

          John S wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • 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):

          chris wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • 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.

          John S wrote on February 10th, 2010
        • 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:

          jsadberry wrote on February 11th, 2010
        • “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 middle-weight MMA fighter not an HG. If it were not so Mark would have not used those two images! “Grok” is a wonderful teaching tool but people don’t fantasize/seek to resemble an actual H/G; they want to look like an Olympic sprinter not an actual San.

          chris wrote on February 11th, 2010
        • 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 Grok though (Cro Magnon, Heidelberg Man, Rhodesian Man etc) is that that were more thickly boned than moderns, and had much greater muscle mass as evidenced by thick muscle attachments. His body fat remains a mystery, but if you superimpose modern HG fat levels over a well muscled body, you’re going to roughly come out with the “sprinter type” body.

          jsadberry wrote on February 12th, 2010
    • 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!

      Natalie wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • 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.

      Krystal wrote on February 10th, 2010
      • 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.

        Nancy wrote on February 11th, 2010
  31. 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.



    kevin k wrote on February 10th, 2010
  32. 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 wrote on February 10th, 2010
  33. Scuse me, ‘while never FAILING TO admire its manifestations’.

    damaged justice wrote on February 10th, 2010
  34. 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 you can guess!

    pieter d wrote on February 10th, 2010
  35. 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!!!!

    Debbie wrote on February 10th, 2010
    • Debbie this is awesome that everything is getting so much better for you with PB!!!! Congrats.

      FlyNavyWife wrote on February 11th, 2010
  36. 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.

    Hugh wrote on February 10th, 2010
  37. 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 on, but those are the first reasons that come to mind.

    Darcy wrote on February 10th, 2010
  38. 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 it) because the weight doesn’t stay on. So I went from lean and muscular to ripped and muscular, not my goal, but I’m ok with that.

    Looking good is a great by-product of this lifestyle change, call me vain all you want, but as a personal trainer I’m also my own advertising and looking good definitely helps with that. I recommend Mark’s book to all of my clients, and 100% of my clients want to lose weight, look better, and feel better, should we fault them for wanting to look better? If looking good improves their quality of life, how is that bad? I’m slowly converting all of my clients to eating and living primal. It’s so rewarding to see the light bulb go on and see these people I care about start making progress towards their goals when they finally start eating healthy.

    Anyway, I love eating healthy, being healthy, and looking great, and I really don’t care what anyone has to say about my personal goals or any of my clients goals for that matter. Next time I am eating my great primal food I might even walk into my bedroom, take my shirt off and flex my abs while I’m eating this fantastic food! Call me vain all you want, and I’ll just keep eating, flexing, and being healthy.

    Tanktop wrote on February 10th, 2010

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