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

How to Tell Friends About the Primal Lifestyle

discussion2Yesterday, we gave some somewhat humorous rejoinders to the common challenges we get from people who just don’t get the Primal Blueprint. Jokes are good for the closed-minded among us who’d never actually listen, but what about the people who really do show interest in the lifestyle? What about friends, family, or co-workers – people you actually have a shot at getting through to – who could use a little nudge in the right direction, away from CW and toward Grok?

It can be incredibly frustrating when people you care about can’t seem to shake CW and give the PB a shot. Its tenets are logical, scientifically sound, and there is ample anecdotal evidence that it really does work – but because they tend to contradict everything most people have ever been taught about food, exercise, and living, it’s easier to ignore them. Or if you are lucky enough to catch a skeptic’s ear, there’s usually some trigger word or phrase (“saturated fat,” anyone?) that causes a meltdown and renders further discussion pointless.

So, in just such a (common) situation, what is the Primal evangelist to do? How are you going to spread the word without alienating your intended audience? And, perhaps most importantly, how might you get through to them without going crazy yourself?

A number of you have expressed a desire to have a handy, go-to quick summary of the basics of the PB for those occasions when you have neither the time nor the inclination to spend ten minutes describing what you do and why you do it. Forum member Cameron Perry said it best:

I do want to echo Jedi’s sentiment in that it’s hard when friends and family don’t really “get it.” Some shake their head. Others go overboard in trying to over-accommodate the primal menu when we share meals (I try to explain the 80% idea). Many tend to look at it as “a Diet” (capital D – like weight watchers) rather than “diet.” Why is that “D” word so ingrained into our heads that we think it’s a set period of time where you eat food you hate? I’m eating food I love (hello – whole avocados!) AND I’m maintaining my weight while losing fat and getting stronger. It’s exactly as you teach, Mark – this should be enjoyable and good for us. I’ve never been healthier or happier with how I’m living. It’s great!

Cameron’s social challenges are echoed by some members of the forum in this thread, so I came up with a simple PDF explaining what we do and why we do it as a partial solution. I don’t delve too deep into the specifics, but I do give the evolutionary logic behind the Primal Blueprint and list some of the benefits a Primal newbie can expect after adopting the lifestyle. My staff and I are confident that anyone with an open mind, a casual knowledge of evolution and natural selection, and a desire to get healthy will find it persuasive and impossible to completely ignore. At the very least, they’ll come check out the site.

Download the Primal Blueprint Flyer (PDF)

Getting the word out about healthy Primal living is more important than ever. Bad habits are asserting themselves and we, as a society, are living ever more unhealthily. Increasing incidences of highly preventable diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s won’t just affect the patients themselves and their immediate families; society as a whole will bear the burden with rising health care costs and higher taxes.

Now, I’m not asking you to wear a loincloth, carry a spear, and go hand out flyers in some downtown square, nor am I asking you to put on your short sleeve shirt and tie and go door-to-door. We don’t want to scare people away! But we do want more people to know about what we’re doing. I think we can really help, and you guys are a huge part of making that happen. Next time someone comments on your weird food, or your uncle comes home with a bag full of statins, slip them a flyer. If your co-workers give you the look during lunch, email them the PDF. If they like what they hear, give them a copy of the book or tell them about it and direct them to the Primal Blueprint 101 page.

So, onward, good Primal soldiers: pack your knapsacks with pemmican and nuts, slip on your Vibram Fivefingers, print out a few flyers, and pound the pavement (try to land on the balls of your feet, so as not to incur joint damage!)! Good luck, and thank you!

Update: The new PDF now has a Grok logo in the background.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. this is great! the pdf will be emailed to any number of pals & family members soon- thanks!

    marci wrote on June 10th, 2009
    • Mark, I like the flyer, great for sharing with friends. You need an eye catcher to use it on a wall. Grok logo.
      I have always thought a good visual would be the total daily food for Krog vs. Grok all laid out on a table with an overhead view. “Which would you rather eat”? CW or like your genes want?

      smf wrote on June 10th, 2009
  2. The trouble I have encountered (new as I am to all of this) is couching the entire conversation in a non-caveman format for christian family members and friends who just aren’t receptive to any idea that incorporates the concept of evolution.

    One of the things I love most about your website is that you cite and link to enough science that (thusfar) I have been able to do so.

    Though, honestly, without Grok the story just isn’t as fun.

    brahnamin wrote on June 10th, 2009
    • I’m a Christian and believe that the primal lifestyle and explanation fits fine. It’s not a matter of evolution so much as adaptation to foods (or lack thereof) and how we were designed to eat. Lets face, there was no bakery in the garden of eden. Just veggies, fruit (it wan’t called “the GARDEN of Eden for nothing) and animals, of which you can explain that God gave us dominion over them. Not to abuse of course, but for food and to be beasts of burden.Explain to them that we messed up, got kicked out of the Garden of Eden and everything went south from there, including diet.

      Dave, RN wrote on June 10th, 2009
      • I think the diet makes MORE sense is you think of the body as designed to operate a certain way. Throughout most human cultures throughout most of human history we ate primally. It would make sense that returning to that would be healthier.

        Kind of like the footwear thing Mark talks about regularly. Most of history- minimal or no footwear was the norm. IF it turns out that our feet we designed to work that way, you would expect minimal or no footwear to be fantastic and healthy (which it is). If however feet were the product of random chance and mutation with no end in mind, or ‘mind’ period, then improvements on weak points could be benificial and expected, say for example, forcing our feet to run heel to toe, or padding, or arch support.

        mike wrote on June 15th, 2010
    • Another thing I like to think about toward this lifestyle/diet is 1 Corintians 6:19: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;”

      Therefore, take care of your body. I think this is one of the best ways to do so.

      Nathan wrote on November 24th, 2009
    • I work at a gear shop (in the South Eastern US) and sell Vibram five fingers. LOTS of our customers are extremely conservative and religious. I constantly get questioned about “those crazy shoes.” I’ve started putting it like this:
      It doesn’t matter what you believe; that we were designed or that we evolved. Either way, we’re supposed to be running around barefoot. These shoes allow you to do that without cutting your feet open or getting gnarly calluses.
      The same really goes for Paleo. Regardless of whether we evolved or were created, we’re not really supposed to be eating processed, high carb foods.

      Ali wrote on December 19th, 2010
  3. Must obtain a color printer! I’m going to have to find the balance between casually suggesting my friends and loved ones read this flyer, and parading around the airport handing it out to strangers.

    Furious Mittens wrote on June 10th, 2009
    • You can also just email it to people. Save it as a PDF and upload it as an attachment. Thanks, Furious Mittens. (Furious Mittens… Now that is something I never thought I’d type.)

      Mark Sisson wrote on June 10th, 2009
    • I agree. I’m afraid to approach people on my own because just before I started Primal I was on South Beach and when I talk about PB, I don’t want them to shake it off as just another fad diet I’m following. I’m hoping there’s enough physical change in me soon for them to notice and ask.

      maba wrote on June 10th, 2009
  4. THANKS!! I’m printing several to leave displayed at my local health food market…

    Peggy wrote on June 10th, 2009
  5. Mark would it be OK for me to translate this into French for friends here?

    Jedi wrote on June 10th, 2009
    • By all means, translate away, Jedi! Thanks! In fact if you do translate it maybe you send me a copy? I’ll add the same style to the PDF as the English version and publish it in this blog post.

      Anyone up for a Spanish translation? German? Other languages?

      Thanks, everyone!

      Mark Sisson wrote on June 10th, 2009
      • Did this ever get translated into French? My husband is French, and although his English is excellent, as is my French, I’m having a hard time explaining this all to him.
        I also have a French friend who is fighting his cholesterol (and not winning) with all the conventional wisdom that his doctor has given him.

        Michelle C wrote on December 20th, 2011
  6. Just the mental image of me with a loincloth and a spear – handing out Primal Blueprint flyers in the mall and grunting at people is just too funny. I love it. Def candid-camera moment.

    Great PDF. I’ve been looking for an ‘Elevator Pitch’ for this and similar lifestyles for quite sometime. You seem to have hit the nail on the head (as always).

    Cheers!

    (is it wrong to also say that its a genius piece on the PB book marketing front too? Well played, sir. Well played!)

    Ryan Robitaille wrote on June 10th, 2009
  7. A good idea, but too many words. Needs charts and pictures to grab attention

    Berto at PricePlow wrote on June 10th, 2009
    • hah! aren’t we becoming our own “picture”? Like the guy yesterday who flexed his bicep @ ppl making fun of his salads…

      Peggy wrote on June 10th, 2009
      • Peggy, I think that’s what I’m going to do too when my colleagues make fun of me passing up the bread or not eating mounds of rice.

        maba wrote on June 10th, 2009
  8. Great PDF! Already emailed it to a bunch of ppl (even the ones that already support me) just because its so well put! Thank you, for once again, making our lives a little bit easier.

    Holly wrote on June 10th, 2009
  9. I’m posting the link to the flyer on my FB and twitter. Now alllll my friends will know!

    Jane wrote on June 10th, 2009
  10. I never explain my eating habits as “primal” or “paleo.” Instead, I mention how common disease, obesity and general poor health and poor quality of life have become and then point out all of the drastic changes that we’ve made to our lifestyles over just the past century. Diet is obviously one of the big ones, but it’s certainly not the only factor. Even despite grains and dairy, people ate more whole foods 100 years ago, and I think that’s the main point … to get people eating more of the natural whole foods that we [evolved on, adapted to, are designed to eat … pick whatever phrase you think is most appropriate].

    Vin - NaturalBias.com wrote on June 10th, 2009
    • Vin, I was talking to a friend this morning and that’s exactly what I told him too. That I’m trying to eat like my grandmother did and avoiding processed foods like the plague. I was so tempted to tell him about primal, but what I told him would be enough to make him consider lifestyle changes and when he makes them, I’m going to try and talk about Primal. For anyone who lives on Processed Foods, going Primal is a drastic change. On the other hand, if they are eating natural foods, the transition to Primal will be easier.

      maba wrote on June 10th, 2009
    • vin, you summed up kinda where I am at with this whole thing. Eat healthy, clean, non-processed food. 100 years ago or 10,000 years ago lets just have real food. People get that as a life style choice. People also get no-grain as a Diet (as in low-carb) but they don’t get it as a life style. What people just don’t fathom on any level is animal fat. It’s just too hard to swallow for people. So when they say I’m going to die, I just say C’est La Vie.

      grandma wrote on June 10th, 2009
  11. Thanks so much for the flyer! I hope this will help in convincing my family to earnestly give healthier living a shot. It really distresses me to know that their misery and discomfort is entirely avoidable.

    Shine wrote on June 10th, 2009
  12. The printout is a fantastic idea, Mark. I think it could use one or two visual bullet-points to make it pop, though… maybe a brightly-colored illustration or photograph of the huge variety of foods you can eat?

    One of the most common reactions I get from people when trying to explain a Primal-type eating approach as simply as possible is this one: “It must be so monotonous to eat nothing but meat and vegetables!”

    I think a lot of people, deprived of real food for so long, automatically conjure up images of nothing but lettuce, broccoli, chicken breasts… and maybe the occasional steak. Anything visual to remind them of the cornucopia of vegetables and Primal meats they can choose from would probably be a good thing!

    Gigi @ Girl Eats Bacon wrote on June 10th, 2009
    • Thanks for the suggestion, Gigi. I have something like this in the works. I’ll be sure to pass it on when it is complete. Thanks!

      Mark Sisson wrote on June 10th, 2009
  13. Species that do not have to work for their food will always have health and weight issues. The process of planning, gathering, preparing and eating your meal is a forgotten element toward a sound mind and body. Very Zen like.

    pjnoir wrote on June 10th, 2009
  14. My physician husband shook off my diet as another fad. Normally, I would argue to try to get my point across but this information is far too valuable for me to make him understand by arguing. So I’m going to let him see my physical changes and then come ask me, because I REALLY want him to take up this lifestyle.

    Mamatha (maba in the forums)

    maba wrote on June 10th, 2009
  15. Hey Mark, I just finsished the book… And loved it! And this post couldnt come at a better time because I just lent it to my dad. My dad is (sadly) a vegetarian and very set in his dietry ways through years of reading yoga scriptures. He was very active untill about two years ago (teaching martial arts and yoga) and then he turned 50 and stopped being active and started downing the cakes. After showing him your picture (both) on the book cover (especially the beach shot) he went “ooohhh, how old is this guy”. When he found out you are older and in remarkably better shape he was immediatley inspired. So I think the way to do it would be have some more pictures of you floating around! It worked for my dad! Great job on the book, and thanks for the life changing insights!

    -Kane

    Kane wrote on June 10th, 2009
  16. Thanks Mark, I actually had a friend of a friend ask me to send her your link the other day as she and her husband are primal without even knowing it! The pdf will definitely be distributed to family and friends.

    Miriam wrote on June 10th, 2009
  17. Love the idea. I do think the first paragraph is misleading that we can eat whatever we want whenever we want. I probably would not read any further thinking it might be yet another gimmick.

    Would love to leave the flyers at clinics, work, fund raisers for breast cancer, MS, diabetes, etc.

    My 23-yo niece just moved in and I am very slowly bringing her into the Primal way. She loves the food I prepare. But she still equates ‘healthy’ with low fat. It has been hard to turn that around. Same with the rest of my family, actually. They still think wheat is healthy.

    Reverie wrote on June 10th, 2009
  18. Mark-
    As I’ve mentioned, I attended classes at the Institute for Intergrative Nutrition (now just called Integrative Nutrition) back in ’05-06. You should be one of their speakers! Contact Joshua Rosenthal at founder@integrativenutrition.com
    IN reaches alot of people…and the graduate’s duty as a health consulor is to teach clients about benefits of eating cleanly– there may be many converts to the PB!

    marci wrote on June 11th, 2009
  19. I was thinking that “The Biggest Loser” contest was the prime place to show this. If a contestant were to adopt the primal lifestyle for the contest and then win it. It would be the best publicity that can be obtained.

    It is becoming very frustrating for me. The problem is that most of the people are either completely vegetarian or mostly vegetarian. Even if they do understand what I am saying they will not take up a predominately meat diet. It is just not part of the culture.

    The situation starts with my wife. She is a vegetarian. She hates the look of meat. She comes from a very strict vegetarian background.

    Anyway, it should be easier in countries other than India (with our mostly vegetarian population).

    Anand Srivastava wrote on June 11th, 2009
    • Actually I found India not to be all that tough to manage. I had the cooked vegetables at the table.
      A family friend took us to an all-veg place and I got by fine on the veggies and stuff.
      not ideal and I definitely confuse people when I refuse roti or rice…but not too bad.

      meatman wrote on October 28th, 2009
  20. one of the things i find challenging is to convince my mum(she’s high on CW,and we are asians so theres the rice issue and i’ve to put up with faux soy vegetarian food); and to convince (esp ladies) that it’s not a diet and i’m not dieting.

    oh i feel injustified that women(esp. from fellow females) get the flak for wanting to be healthy, and not for the looks.

    and i think your picture do get the point across, and us, being role model are the best testimonials.

    thanks Mark! =)

    luyi wrote on June 15th, 2009
  21. As far as I know, we are not older because of doctors (except maybe because of vaccinations), but mainly because of better sanitation. Plus many Gorks probably died in battle or died of hunger or were at least weakened by it; do not romanticize that time, be happy to life now.

    Victor wrote on January 3rd, 2010
  22. I just tell people I eat like a caveman, and point out that animals designed to eat grass have multiple stomachs and since I only have one I don’t eat grass. (So wheat, corn, other grains and I lump sugar in there at the same time as sugar cane is a grass)

    John wrote on July 23rd, 2011

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