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

Listening to Your Body

Question: what does your body feel like right now? Go ahead. Take an inventory. From the toes to the head, what’s going on in there at the present moment? How’s your back? How’s your stomach? Your head? How about muscles? Your energy level and mood? Is your thinking clear this morning? Good and bad, what signals are you getting? Beyond the here and now, what’s your body been trying to tell you lately? Any changes since beginning the Challenge? Most important of all perhaps – are you accustomed to listening to what your body has to say?

Everything about our culture, it seems, discourages us from doing just that. From the commercials insisting we don’t need to put up with that headache to the glorification of binge drinking, taking a body’s hint isn’t exactly at the top of most people’s list of talents or priorities. Why live with that pesky fever when you can simply beat it back with 1000 milligrams of extra strength head-in-the-sand? Indigestion from eating that second Big Mac today? Try some Pepcid AC.

Think about it. People bring a kind of pride to pushing through the pain (and I’m not just talking about childbirth or weightlifting here). People go into work sick as dogs (my personal favorite). They knowingly ignore with the clear physiological effects of chronic stress. They eat a diet for much or all of their lifetime that leaves them sluggish and overweight. It’s only when serious illness hits that we sit up and take notice. (Ironically, sometimes serious illness teaches us how to listen to our bodies, to discover how symptoms – however subtle – can be a crucial barometer for larger issues.) The body has – and shares – its own brand of wisdom. We’d do well to heed its cues before it smacks us over the head with a club.

Too often, of course, we surrender the power that comes from reading and knowing our bodies. We unthinkingly relinquish it to doctors and other practitioners, either because we genuinely believe that theirs is the only substantive opinion or because we don’t really want to take responsibility for our health. Owning your well-being is an unofficial but essential Primal principle. Appreciating your ability to listen to your body’s signals follows from it.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about the potential (and fun) of self-experimentation. You’re your very own guinea pig. (Oh, the possibilities…) Ultimately, however, the crux of self-experimentation is self-assessment – physical assessment to be exact. A glucose monitor can be a handy tool. A heart rate monitor is a good gadget to have. A notebook and pen (or Word document) might be an even better set of instruments, however. (It all depends upon an open and perceptive mind of course.) I’ll venture to say that your body will tell you in its own way what the machine displays. By all means, take advantage of technology, but use it to help hone your own perception. What does a certain heart rate feel like? What sensations creep up when your glucose hits a certain number?

What does a headache mean? A backache? What precipitates foggy thinking or acid reflux? What confers a sense of lightness after lunch or a good night’s sleep? What choices seem to contribute to or prevent that infamous midafternoon slump?

Think about all the sensations that your body can produce – positive and negative: fatigue, foggy thinking, dizziness, digestive issues, rapid breathing or heart beat, skin flare-ups, back pain or general achiness, stiffness, stuffy nose, neck tension, dry eyes, constipation, dry mouth, headache – and the balanced, comfortable opposites of those symptoms like a clear head, steady energy, effective digestion, relaxed muscles, and regular bowel movements. (Don’t underestimate the gratification and importance of a good poop.)

Genuine health of course isn’t just the absence of obvious negative symptoms as it’s often thought of. Living a life in line with its genetic expectations goes a long way toward deciphering the softer signs. For example, lots of folks tell me it was only after going Primal that they were able to pinpoint food allergies or underlying chronic conditions. Going Primal finally allowed them to perceive the subtler signals that had previously been blocked out by bigger noise of a SAD, inflammation-promoting, digestion-busting diet, chronic cardio, or consistent lack of sleep. Most of us have had this experience on some level. Going Primal reveals long-term disruption we didn’t even know existed until we had the experience of living without its sources and subsequent misery.

To complement your self-experimentation or just enhance your Challenge success, learn to hone your perception skills with regular practice and keen assessment.

  • Keep a reminder with you. Psychologists often advise clients to keep a stone or other object in their pocket or on their wrist as a reminder to assess their well-being periodically during the day.
  • Stop a few times a day – a few consistent times and any time you feel a peak or valley on the horizon. Put your hand on your heart if you need an added gesture to get into the spirit of the exercise. Take an inventory of every part, but don’t just look for the bad or use the “okay” as the measuring stick for good. Identify what sensations are associated with real vitality (e.g. relaxed shoulders, soft eye expression, a bright feeling in your upper body).
  • Record the negative and positive feelings you observe. Think about what’s going on in the present moment. Where are you are? What kind of interactions and activities have filled this part of the day? What have you eaten in the last one to two hours? When was the last time you were outside? How does this compare to how you felt yesterday at this same time?
  • Compare the sensations and connections to your self-experimentation project. Are you onto something? Write it down, and see if similar conditions the next day produce the same sensations or if changed circumstances interrupt the pattern.
  • Think about where you’re at in your self-experimentation or Challenge transition. If you’ve chosen to overhaul your diet and finally ditch grains and sugar this week, the fatigue you may be feeling is possibly the low carb flu. If your goal has been to ratchet up your exercise but you’ve been overdoing it or not allowing for adequate recovery time, you might need to give yourself a rest period. The truth might be found in both the details and the big picture.
  • Get in the habit of thinking through your physical sensation. Give the body its due as part of the intellect. Like all animals, we apprehend and interpret our environment bodily as well as abstractly. Ask the body in whatever manner of speaking you’re into, what do you need now? Movement? A nap? Some fresh air or sunlight? An extra layer of clothing? Maybe just a good laugh?
  • Whatever you undertake in response, take time to read the subsequent signals. What’s changed? What happened to the old sensations? What new ones do you notice? Are parts of you affected that weren’t before? Maybe you didn’t notice any mental fogginess before, but now you realize how much clearer and sharper your thinking is after a brisk walk or a few minutes of play. Relish and repeat.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. Have a great day.

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. I feel full. I ate a grapefruit for breakfast and a VERY LARGE big ass salad for lunch. Too much.

    No worries. Ill just eat a smaller dinner.

    Listen to your body. Live life. Live in Hawaii for 5 weeks. Why not?!

    Primal Toad wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Sugar (carbs) of ANY kind eaten without protein will break down muscle to get all amino acids to be able to metabolize sugar.
      Always eat some form of COMPLETE protein with your carbs. If not complete your body will continue to break down amino acid tissue (muscle) to be able to metabolize.
      That is why carb bingers like marathon runners are muscle deficient and extremely skinny, but still sport a not so sexy muffin top.

      Arty wrote on September 16th, 2011
    • lol Primal Toad, I’m doing exactly what you suggested in your last line. I’ve got 3 more weeks here in Waikiki, Honolulu and I’m lovin it! :-D

      TokyoJarrett wrote on September 18th, 2011
  2. Wow, I’m first.

    Today I’m not feeling great actually, which could be a combination of poor sleep and seasonal allergies. I get allergies every fall, but this fall it seems that they are at least less severe than normal. I’m hoping next year, after a full year of living the Grok life, I may not have them at all!

    Abby C. wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Nope, I beat you :)

      Primal Toad wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Abby, i hear ya! this may sound a bit out of the ordinary but typically on a full moon i have a harder time getting good rest (werewolf blood, maybe) particularly this past full moon which it has be the biggest of the year (harvest moon). I find out that once i eliminated all grains any form of allergy i had previously it completely disappared. Wish you lots of luck!

      ruben wrote on September 15th, 2011
      • Same here. I stopped eating grains and drinking pasteurized milks and TADA! All allergies I thought I had disappeared. No more chronic sinus infections, no more nasal sprays, no more anti-histamines, no more staying inside near the air cleaner to be able to breathe and no more skin rashes and hot, itchy, red eyes.
        Also, fix your omega 6:3 ratio. O6 is an inflammation response fatty acid. The more you carry around the more your body will try and stay busy by attacking random ‘pollutants’, which all food in its un-natural state is.
        It’s like having 20 guys in your house looking for things to do and you have to keep them busy.
        It is easier to keep 2 guys busy than 20.
        You can’t take in 3000mg of Omega 3 every day, and think it’ll kill the O6, it doesn’t.
        Now you might have 3 girls in your house trying to keep busy, but the 20 guys are still there, too.

        Arty wrote on September 16th, 2011
  3. All I want to do is sleep.

    Kay wrote on September 15th, 2011
  4. Hi Mark,

    Curious as to your thoughts on this study…

    http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/

    thanks!

    Andy wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Without reading the entire study, I would say this abstract is relatively useless–knowing ratios of macronutrients is kind of meaningless–was the fat animal fat, coconut oil and butter or was it canola, soybean and corn oil? Were the carbs from vegetables and fruit or from sugar and grains?

      Beyond that, neither group can really be catagorized as “low carb.” In a 2000 Kcal/day diet, that’s 200 grams of carb in the “Zone” group and the other is the USDA ratios (300 g carbs). Would they have seen even better results if they had included a group that had a ratio of, say, 10% from carbs, 30% from protein and 70% from fat (my approximate ratio)?

      Both groups may have seen improvement because the number of calories were reduced to create a deficit (I know, I know; weight loss and metabolism isn’t about calories-in/calories-out, but after a certain point you are going to lose weight and see certain health markers improve if you are taking in less food than you need to maintain your weight–I would simply argue and most would likely agree that this plan is not sustainable.) In fact, there could have been many factors at play, but with the information Don includes in this post, there’s no way to tell.

      And of course, ultimately, the effectiveness of any diet is how much it doesn’t seem like a “diet.” How satisfying is it? How do the participants feel on the diet? Were they reasonably able to stick to it?

      I used to really like what Don had to say, but lately he seems to have gotten sloppy and biased. Maybe it’s because I’m agreeing with him less and less but it really seems he used to be more careful in his research.

      fritzy wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Telling subjects to eat in a certain way doesn’t mean they did. From the abstract we can’t tell that. We also can’t tell what foods were eaten.

      Begin with the fact that protein is metabolised differently to carbohydrate. If there are low or non-significant differences on a whole range of variables it is likely that the two groups didn’t have significantly different eating habits.

      The changes that were observed are likely due to caloric restriction.

      But I could be wrong. We can’t be sure of anything without reading the whole paper.

      Steven wrote on September 16th, 2011
  5. Thanks for the reminder, Mark. Luckily I grew up with a mom who really focused on the importance of listening to your body – she always said how a fever is good because it’s killing the bug that you have. And she also always said it’s ok to eat dirt ;)

    I think I’m going to wear a hairtie around my wrist to remember. It’s so easy to forget! I’m listening to my stomach now and it’s telling me to REST.

    Salad Maggie wrote on September 15th, 2011
  6. It is amazing to me how lazy and tired and depressed I had to become before I listened to my body. The food I ate, the lack of exercise, the late nights and early mornings were killing me. I had no energy, no creativity,m no desire for anything except food and TV.

    I KNOW that when I eat too many carbs from grains I feel hyped (jittery even) and then sluggish. I also know that my thinking isn’t as clear

    I’ve been eating better since the 30-day challenge began. Apples, meat, leafy greens. I feel better with more energy. Had my workout this morning and feel more energetic. I can tell the 30-day challenge is working already!

    Kent H wrote on September 15th, 2011
  7. I feel amazing, alive. I’ve survived about 5 days of flu-like symptoms, but maybe I’m through the woods. I’m on day 16 of going primal!

    I feel great. Comfortable, sated but not full, warm, joyful, physically tired and emotionally energetic. I just finished an amazing, home-cooked dinner and I’m lying in bed with a book and some jasmine green tea. I feel such an upwelling of happiness in my chest–I’m seeing my blessings with such clarity! Thank you, Mark. Today has been wonderful.

    Anne wrote on September 15th, 2011
  8. Keep a journal whenever you make a meaningful change in your life habits. Start by briefly recording what you’re going to do and what you hope to accomplish.

    That way you’ll have a much better idea of what the change is doing for you, and whether you want to continue with it. If it’s a substantial positive change, the journal will also serve as motivation to stick with it.

    Note that quitting a change is also journal-worthy, and will serve as a double-check on your previous evaluation.

    JS

    J. Stanton wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • This journal idea you speak of is on my list of habits to start. I’m planning on picking out a nice (i.e., something pretty that will fit in my purse) journal this weekend to help me out.

      Ali wrote on September 16th, 2011
  9. I think I’d like a nap… out in the fresh air and sunlight… but then again, I live in Chicago and its currently 58 degrees and sunless. Maybe that’s why I feel tired. Ha :)

    Hilary M. wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • I live in North Texas where it’s 69 and cloudy. As compared to the past summer when it’s been 105+ and bright sun nearly every day. It was 107 Tuesday. Probably why I feel like snoozing too.

      Kay wrote on September 15th, 2011
  10. This is a great post, I’ve always listened to my body and tell my kids to as well. My husband is a rancher and I was a Veterinary Technician before kids – so we both are observant to illness/tiredness etc in animals and we both find that it transfers over to noticing if our kids/ourselves are not feeling well. We can tell if one of our kids have a throat infection before the doctor can! I wonder why people have lost the sensation of listening to their body, Tylenol commercials????

    Tanya wrote on September 15th, 2011
  11. Today, I feel shaky and a bit weak, with abdominal discomfort that is slowly improving through the morning. This is completely attributable to what I ate last night, which while totally Primal, was not a good idea. We made Cajun-style pork loin. I NEVER eat food that spicy in anywhere near that amount. But it was really good, so I ate my whole 1/2 pound loin chop.

    My digestion has been exacting revenge on me for the past 16 hours as a result, with cramps that woke me up several times in the night and lovely, spicy-hot diarrhea this morning. Who knew eating heaps of ground black and cayenne pepper might irritate a sensitive gut? :P

    Also, I am a bit sore in my back and shoulders from my barbell training last night.

    Other than those (temporary, acute) issues, I feel my usual “pretty damn good”. Got plenty of sleep last night depite a few interruptions, woke up at daybreak without an alarm, had a good breakfast once I felt up to eating, and took a nice sit on my back porch in the early-morning cool with my fiancee, watching the dog run around like a crazy beast. Then off to work, and now having a lovely lunch of Primal leftovers (grass-fed ground beef and sauteed vegetables, NOT more super-spicy pork, lol). Pretty nice day so far. :)

    Uncephalized wrote on September 15th, 2011
  12. I’ve just started eating paleo on monday and have found it incredibly hard to get up in the morning. Could this be from the low carb flu?

    Ellie wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Yes, general lethargy is definitely a common symptom. You don’t have to lower your carbs all at once if its easier for you to slowly lower the level over several days or weeks.

      Uncephalized wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Hang in there, I had a hard time for a week or so and once it was over…wow, I don’t remember feeling this good. It’s so nice not to have to eat something every few hours. Carb crashing is the pits. Primal living is liberating in so many ways.

      T Hut wrote on September 16th, 2011
  13. Is anyone else out there checking the scales as well as listening to your body?

    I have been Primal for a while but about two weeks ago, I took out dairy and started CrossFit to meet my “lift heavy things” and “sprint” requirements. I’ve been going every three days or so, letting my body rest, but I know I’m building muscle.

    Just how much more does muscle weigh? I think I’ve gained three pounds! (not what I was hoping for when I stepped on the scale this morning.)

    I “feel” tired, maybe I am still not sleeping enough.

    Eryn wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • You also might not be eating enough to fuel intense workouts. I know Robb Wolf hammers on this all the time, that lethargy and slow recovery are usually symptoms of under-fueling for your activity level.

      Uncephalized wrote on September 15th, 2011
      • Yeah I struggle with balancing it all: exercising, eating, IF-ing, sleeping… I know it is all so important, and it’s difficult to know which one needs to be addressed.

        I am also writing everything down, so perhaps I will notice a pattern after a while.

        Eryn wrote on September 15th, 2011
        • Eryn, if you’ve only been primal for a couple of weeks, I wouldn’t be trying to tweek anything too much yet (e.g. IF’ing).

          Just concentrate on getting good nourishing food, sleep and exercise.

          Your lethargy could also be due to carb flu / grand and/or sugar withdrawals if you’re just in your first couple of weeks.

          Misabi wrote on September 15th, 2011
        • Eryn, in my experience I ll have to say to put your rest and food ahead of everything else for now, (since you are only starting recently) both eating and resting are the most anabolic of your choices concentrate there, exercise and all other activities are by nature catabolic, more so if there is not good nutrition and rest.
          I will stay clear of training in an empty stomach such as an AM Xfit session, it can definitely drive your blood sugar way to low and create a huge imbalance in your metabolism such as mitochondrial damage which is well scientifically researched.
          Another thing i will recommend is to go low fat (only at this time) in your post workout meal that will ensure that your glycogen levels will be restored and you will have a decent day without any energy up and downs.

          ruben wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • One of the first things I have noticed, is that when people start exercising, you generally will gain some weight initially before losing. A lot depends on your body type and diet though…if you have an extra 100-150 lbs, I would be surprised to see the scale go up if you are sticking with diet. On the other hand, if you only have 15 or 20 lbs you are trying to lose, I would not worry much about the scale for the first 6 weeks.
      Also, if you really want to get things going, workout fasted and then eat. Either get up early and work out before breakfast, or skip lunch and work out before dinner. A lot of science says eat protein within 30 minutes, but as long as you work out fasted, and then eat, you should see more results.

      Jeff wrote on September 15th, 2011
      • I’m definitely more in the 15lb-to-lose range, so thanks for the advice!

        I have found that I prefer the morning workout before breakfast, so I will try to stick to that.

        Eryn wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • I wouldn’t worry too much about the scale right now. Just listen to your body and don’t over complicate things! Eat when you are hungry, rest when you are tired, the rest will come.

      Also your body can fluctuate a few pounds a day just from water. For a more accurate measurement of your progress look in the mirror, some people even take a photo each month in the same position and lighting. I like to measure myself around the areas where I tend to carry the most fat, ie stomach and thighs, but even that is not totally accurate since I could have gained muscle from doing squats etc.

      Mostly just pay attention to changes in muscle tone and definition and how your clothes fit. Good luck! :)

      Robin wrote on September 15th, 2011
  14. Yes. It’s amazing how disconnected from their bodies some people are. A friend of mine literally can’t tell when she’s hungry – to the point of not eating the whole day because she forgets to eat.

    I’ve always listened to my body, to the point of mild hypochondria, and I think I’m healthier for it.

    For me, by the way, the major factor in my well-being is not food but sleep. When I eat awful food, I get a bit of acne, which is no fun, but that’s all. When I get less than 8 hours of sleep, I’m essentially useless – I get irritable, my brain stops working right, I develop all sorts of crazy addictive behaviors, and so on. I’ve been sleeping well since the Challenge started, and I feel so much better – energetic, happy, and ready to take on the world.

    LM wrote on September 15th, 2011
  15. All day I’ve actually been very on-the-ball and motivated at work. Not sure whether it’s due to a good night’s sleep, the hour long walk I took after dinner last night, the light breakfast and salad for lunch, or what… but it’s good.

    My back is a little strained from sitting in my chair all day. Always a little pain up in the shoulders and I know exactly where it comes from. I really should at the very least stack a few boxes on my desk to make this a standing workstation.

    Stomach is getting a little rumbly already but I’m looking forward to a nice big duck breast with some fresh veggies from the local farmer’s market tonight… so I’ll just wait!

    Marc wrote on September 15th, 2011
  16. My feet are cold and I have to pee. Funny thing is, if I hadn’t just read this article, I would continue reading other articles doing nothing about my discomfort. Now I’m signing off to take care of what my body is begging me to do … pee and get some socks!

    Tara45 wrote on September 15th, 2011
  17. I have a toothache and i’m on my way to get a root canal! I know i’m going to feel much better this afternoon! Beside the toothache, I’m feeling pretty healthy.

    barbara wrote on September 15th, 2011
  18. Fasted yesterday and today I just feel wasted. Every time I get up my head spins. Thinking low iron. But like I tell everyone…I can eat beef liver until I’m green and it won’t raise. Tomorrow is another day!

    Leea wrote on September 15th, 2011
  19. I feel horrible. My heart hurts, everything is shaking. OTOH I just did some sprints…

    garth wrote on September 15th, 2011
  20. I’m actually a little tired, but I notice a huge difference in how my joints feel at work…I just switched to my 5-finger shoes. I have had them for a while, but actually wore them to work today. My knees and hips are loving me for that decision. I definitely need to find a new job, because I have been noticing the negative side affects of the stress I have from work. I think a lot of that has to do with my not feeling well.

    Jeff wrote on September 15th, 2011
  21. Found out my iron is great! I said it is because of my special diet. That being said I am tired because this week has been really busy.

    I have had various muscle aches in my back for the last week sore and stiff neck and shoulders and now a pinched nerve in my lower back… no idea what is going on but I don’t push myself to do more when I am feeling this way. I guess years of the wrong posture, injuries and no stretching take a long time to undo.

    The eating on the other hand is fabulous. There were cookies all over the office yesterday and I managed to avoid eating even one, which is a miracle for me. Just played the tape out on how I would feel after and that helped me find the will power to resist.

    Mary wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Mary, try doing a few minutes of lower back stretches. I used to suffer from terrible sciatica then I started doing 15 min. of stretching every morning and it cleared right up!
      I do the warm up from this yoga video called Naval Power by Ana and Ravi. The whole workout is amazing but the first few minutes really limbers up the spine but gently :)

      Robin wrote on September 15th, 2011
      • I do yoga’s “child pose” almost every morning before I get out of bed, really helps with my lower back pain.

        T Hut wrote on September 16th, 2011
      • What kind of stretches did you do for your sciatica because I have it now and its annoying. thanks

        Terence Flynn wrote on March 6th, 2014
        • I highly recommend you get the naval power video, it’s available to download, and the progression of exercises is what makes it really effective. They are not passive stretches, but warm up exercises. Naval Power by Ravi Ana

          Robin wrote on March 8th, 2014
        • Sorry, that’s Navel Power haha spelling makes all the difference. http://kickass.to/navel-power-kundalini-yoga-w-ravi-singh-ana-brett-dvdrip-t7767391.html

          Robin wrote on March 8th, 2014
  22. Interesting about people pinpointing food allergies after going primal. I had a similar experience when I did a VLC diet a few years back.. It involved 7 month of abstinence from conventional food (not necessarily an approach to weight loss that i”d now recommend, but it got me here eventually….) At the point when I started to reintroduce real foods, I discovered a whole heap of allergies.

    Listening to my body’s reactions and learning to take note of the physical feedback i was getting has been, and continues to be a challenging journey.

    It took an enlightened nutritionist to point out that my body had ‘chosen’ me a Primal/Paleo diet and even then it took a while (you know… just 2 years!) for me to really hear it and respond in the way that my body needed me to.

    Super Gaily Girl wrote on September 15th, 2011
  23. Considering that yesterday was an annual company party-event and I went out with work friends after for more partying*…this morning is not a good day to wake up to Mark asking how im feeling xP

    On the plus side, im focusing on rehydrating without relying on sugary sports drink crap and eating some good steak and veggie leftovers instead of cereal. I feel this is helping me bounce back a lot better and quicker than I ever have before. I let myself rest and nap this morning instead of pushing myself, and now Im up and about almost good as new.

    (*in my defense I only get a little too crazy with alcohol once a year and I guess this is this year’s quota filled)

    cTo wrote on September 15th, 2011
  24. Honestly, I think this is one of your best and most important articles.

    Being in tune with your nature/nurture is pretty darn important fo aiming at being at your peak consistently and foreseeing possible train wrecks.

    Todd wrote on September 15th, 2011
  25. I have gone primal for over a year now. I have lost 18 pounds from my original small 178 pound frame. I am physically in great shape. I lift heavy things 3 times a week and do sprints 2 times per week. I also walk a lot since my sales job forces me to check out several construction sites a day. However, mentally, I don’t feel in great shape. My stress levels have seemed to increase more than ever. I have also cut my drinking (booze) to a quarter of what I used to. But I can’t bust the constant blues and negative thinking. Anyone have any good advice??

    Darryl Logan wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Meditation. I highly recommend Rick Hanson’s book Buddha’s Brain. It’s practical psychoneural science. Meditation strengthens the prefrontal cortex and that has amazing benefits.

      rose wrote on September 15th, 2011
      • I’ve seriously tried meditation many times. But my brain won’t allow it. How do you stop your brain from thinking when you are awake??

        Darryl Logan wrote on September 15th, 2011
        • Thats one of the biggest misconceptions about meditation. In most styles of meditation that I know of, youre not supposed to STOP thinking; youre supposed to slow your thoughts down somewhat, but just let them come. Dont try and direct them, evaluate them, or judge them. Try to be present in the moment while letting your mind flow where it will.

          Its not easy, ive only just started practicing it myself.

          cTo wrote on September 15th, 2011
        • I do a moderate yoga session, it is the only thing that takes my brain down into my body. It is the only thing that shuts down my brain chatter.

          T Hut wrote on September 16th, 2011
    • Aikido worked wonders for me. Your local dojo may vary, but the one I go to focuses as much on positive thinking/energy/Ki as it does on the physical. Plus you’re getting your workout at the same time.

      Michael C wrote on September 16th, 2011
    • Darryl, I had trouble with those things as well until I started supplementing with vitamin D and getting more sun – a lot more. I’m not sure if you’re doing that; just thought I’d add my two cents. Good luck:)

      Chris wrote on September 16th, 2011
  26. A few years ago, I took a weekend workshop from a qi gong master. He was quite critical of Westerners who were completely unconscious of the energy or chi in their bodies. We did several long meditations feeling the flow up the spine, down the arms and back, up the neck, through the head to the top and then drop to the tongue, swallow to the belly….
    Now I make of point of turning my attention away from the voice in the head to feel the life in my body. It’s a lovely practice.

    rose wrote on September 15th, 2011
  27. Right now my stomach and my head are telling me that it was really stupid to eat that 1/2 bar of dark chocolate even though it was 70% cacao. I feel nauseated and I don’t know why I just did that. I ate pork chops and salad for lunch so I wasn’t hungry. I was bored eating instead of hungry eating.

    It’s going to take me some time to get over the whole emotional eating part I think.

    Susan M. wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • I also had some dark chocolate today without being hungry, but it’s a treat – enjoy it! I suffer from emotional eating and perfectionist tendencies, and I’ve found that a walk, a deep breath, a cup of tea/coffee, or a combination of the above satisfy much more deeply than a snack. Food is adequate fuel for your body, but not your soul. Find what feeds your soul – no matter what it is – and stuff it full. :) Love and good luck.

      Maggie wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Susan, don’t give up! I have struggled with emotional eating since early adolescence, and am just starting to get a handle on it. Chocolate is a huge weakness for me, so I totally understand — I have to tell you, though, 70% still has a LOT of sugar, which is why it’s nearly impossible to stop once you’ve started. I let myself eat as much 85% as I want, and I never eat more than 3 squares (3.5g sugar total). Hope that helps! Another thing I do is drink a cup of green tea after dinner if I’m craving sweets but I’m not hungry. Yogi Green Tea Super Antioxidant is the best I’ve tried yet by far. Grok on!

      Carrie B wrote on September 16th, 2011
  28. I really need to try some of this self-experimentation stuff. It’s just really hard for me to notice a difference in how I feel because 99% of the time I feel absolutely fine. Then when I occasionally feel off, it’s really hard to put my finger on what’s causing it.

    Josh Frey wrote on September 15th, 2011
  29. I felt lethargic and sleepy after eating several squares of chocolate and M&M’s earlier today, but I really noticed the effects and am learning every single day what works and what doesn’t for me. Lighter dairy this week has me feeling less bloated and more energized. My skin has cleared up also. And yesterday I ate very little animal protein and honestly noticed a ‘never feeling quite full’ feeling and a bit lethargic. Eating more primally has really awakened me to sensing all sorts of cues from my body it’s truly amazing.

    katie wrote on September 15th, 2011
  30. Today I was tired, but the last few days I have been well rested and full of energy. Have been eating primal for the past couple of months. The aches in my knees, which I thought was from age, is now gone.

    Best of all, I am almost never hungry any more.

    Paul Bourret wrote on September 15th, 2011
  31. I feel a bit fuzzy in the head, I have had big problems with sleep the last 3 days. Very strange I never have troube with sleeping!

    I am also mighty sore in my lats, hamstrings and my glute.

    workout4ever wrote on September 15th, 2011
  32. I’ve just started the primal fitness diet. I’m one of those super skinny people. I’m currently 143 and would like to be at 155-160. I do heavy compound lifts three times a week. I started at 127 pounds of body weight. While I was gaining strength and muscle, I noticed my belly gaining fat, that never happens to me. I think it’s the eat tons and tons of calories, which is true, but it was the pasta, bagels, rice, oatmeal, bread, pancakes and so on. While I may have been putting on muscle, it was apparently just too much even for my body type. I have a muscular physic except around my stomach, I look like a skinny fat.

    That’s my body telling me to make a change. I’m going primal to cut out this excess fat I do have, gain more lean muscle to get my body weight where I want it, and just for the longevity and health benefits. So far I’ve noticed that I’m more hungry more often. No problems with lethargy yet.

    Derek wrote on September 15th, 2011
  33. I’ve been super strict Paleo for the last three weeks – and I feel amazing! I wake up before my alarm every day and have so much more energy!

    Suz wrote on September 15th, 2011
  34. I feel energetic and clear headed for the most part, but have been struggling with severe carb cravings. I have been trying to reduce my fruit intake which is proving to be difficult. My stomach is a lot flatter and my complexion seems healthier. If only I could stop thinking about eating sweets.

    Sabrina wrote on September 15th, 2011
  35. What happens when your mind trumps what your body says (i.e. eating food for the emotional positivity they give you rather than the nutritional benefit)? Or when your “body”/mouth tells you things you know just aren’t right (i.e. to have a whole wheel of cheese for dinner rather than meat and vegetables)

    I’ve nearly read this website cover to cover and I agree with the basic principles and I’ve been trying to adhere to it incrementally but I’ve experienced so many setbacks. I’m an overeater and a food addict but going primal has only intensified my issues with food (sometimes I’ll have horrible binges like today: a muffin and a brownie ugh). I see all the great progress everyone has made on this site and I feel like I’ll never become a part of the community because I’m doomed by my over-intake of foods and my compulsion to eat bad things even when I know better.

    Rachelle wrote on September 15th, 2011
    • Rachelle, having it all together is not a prerequisite for being part of this community! The wonderful thing about the people here is that we all have something that we struggle with and are striving to do better, and helping each other along the way! Keep coming here and checking out the forums for answers to specific questions you might have, and don’t give up. Focus more on the good choices you’re making, and eventually they’ll become habits, and then a way of life.

      Carrie B wrote on September 16th, 2011
  36. I havent had to change much this week, since I’ve been fairly good with the Primal thing lately. But just giving up artificial sweetners and coffee, and the low-carb chocolate have seemed to make a difference! My appetite has decreased, and I have so much energy that I overdid the exercise Tuesday! Unfortunately that means I have been in ALOT of pain Weds and Thurs…(if I had to go into an office or school I would have taken the OTC Meds…I do understand that situation!) I have lost some of the weight I put on eating too much fruit and dairy this summer, so here’s to fall and a fresh start!

    Hopeless Dreamer wrote on September 15th, 2011
  37. Staying in touch with your body and the way that you feel is to me, one of the most important things you can do. Primal eating is a good way to begin this process, but I feel that meditation is the best way to go about it. Systematically becoming aware of your body, every little sensation and nuance and then trying to remember to be mindful of this throughout your day.
    Just my two cents.

    Have a good day all :)

    Grant wrote on September 15th, 2011
  38. I’d also like to add, eating even a little beef each day fills me up more than other foods!

    Hopeless Dreamer wrote on September 15th, 2011
  39. This week I’m trying to cut back on fruits and dairy, so I’m feeling more lethargic than usual. I didn’t make it to the co-op this week, so we’re eating the best supermarket meat we can instead of that — not sure if that has any effect in the mix too. My skin has been really dry lately, probably just the season change, and my mood (generally ranging between a bit and very bipolar) has been better than it sometimes is, although in the neighborhood of “okay” rather than “good.” I think tomorrow I will try to get outside a little more and do some stretching. I’ll particularly pay attention in the next few days to how the temperature affects me.

    Erin wrote on September 15th, 2011
  40. Love your site Mark. Just found it through fitnessblackbook and I’m really digging this whole primal thing. Keep it up.

    HCW wrote on September 15th, 2011

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