Marks Daily Apple
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Mark's Daily Apple

18 Jun

I’ll Show THEM!

I’m curious: Is there a survival benefit conferred to us by being stubborn, or is it just immaturity? (Or any one of a litany of emotional and psychological issues.) I’m starting to think there must be a benefit.

It’s amusing, this human lust for proving others wrong, this need to be justified. It’s as if “they” all witness the brain’s imaginary blotter of record and are apprised of how the points of personal justice add up. Ever caught yourself imagining “they” are watching?

Who are “they”, exactly, and why do we want to prove “them” wrong?

It’s obvious enough in the embarrassing daily scenes with which we have verbal feasts, our gleeful elation barely concealed (“Honey, you are not gonna believe what just happened with this guy at the bank. Total meltdown…”). It’s having the last word with the insouciant hot dog vendor. Arguing with the airline attendant for the sake of satisfaction. Debating automated service technology with the hapless phone rep.

Ah, to bathe in the hormonal rush of stubborn! We know such reactions are immature at best, rude at worst. Often, stress has pushed a sane and polite person to the brink. But gosh, sometimes it just plain feels good. He who has not sinned, pick up the first numbered line ticket (or press 1 for English).

But proving “them” wrong goes beyond insecure displays of frustration with trivialities to major life choices. We all have stayed in relationships, romantic or otherwise, that don’t really “fit”. We chew on situations that have long since expired. We cling to a role that no longer serves anyone, least of all ourselves. We stay, and stay, and stay. Why? And to play my own devil’s advocate, is this really so bad?

(A caveat: Though I am a proponent of change, I’m not saying anyone has to change a less-than-ideal situation – only the individual really knows the reason, or reasons, for staying. We’re all controlled by forces and emotions of which we have yet to become aware. Getting into the many reasons people don’t change would make for a very tedious post, and it’s Monday and I know we’re all just getting perked up at this point. Also, I hope it’s clear that I’m not talking about persistence and diligence. Those are admirable qualities, and in this instant-gratification culture I think there’s too much giving up. I’m talking about harmful pride and stubbornness.)

I think that beneath all the “reasons” – both the superficial good ones and the comfortable lies – the root issue is simply that we are determined to prove “them” wrong. I’ll show them! Because when you’re wanting to prove “them” wrong, you’re really just wanting to prove yourself wrong. “Mistakes” cut into the old ego like the dickens. We’d rather save face.

Now we’re at the real question: why do we want to prove ourselves wrong?

We’re all blessed with instincts, some stronger than others. But from an early age, we’re taught to suppress our instincts. Authority knows best; the rules are always right; if it looks good on paper it must be good. As a result, we give words a chance when actions are not commensurate. We believe pundits, politicians, mass marketing, cheating lovers. We doubt ourselves before others (and it’s the last people who ought to doubt themselves who are the first to do so).

They say when you ask for advice, you already know the answer. I believe when we try to prove others wrong, we’re really just trying to prove ourselves wrong, because we already know the answer. And we’re loath to make a mistake. We’ve been taught that mistakes are bad.

I believe in the the maxim “a wise man keeps his own council” – but what confidence this takes! Ignoring our instincts is not only a recipe for an unfulfilled life but exerts a harmful level of physical stress that is probably cumulative and maybe more destructive than all the pizza and Twinkies we worry about. So why is living this way – it’s more like just-barely-existing – so commonplace?

A bit of a qualifier: I’m assuming you believe in the power of instinct as I do (if not, go read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink). And I’m asserting, rather unoriginally, that proving “them” wrong is just psychological projection – whether in the form of tirades, meltdowns, lectures, denials, reproach – because we’re uncomfortable with experiencing our own feelings or confronting what we know to be true deep down.

Is suppression of instinct mere social conditioning, a necessary evil for the good of the group, or does it benefit the human species in some deeper way? Remember, a “benefit” in evolutionary terms is not always rosy. It would seem the evolutionary mechanism at work, if there is one, is a harsh one. While I don’t go in for the “America causes cancer!” fear-mongering, I do think it is clear that our modern lifestyle is grossly out of step with our genetic blueprints.

So, I really doubt there’s an evolutionary benefit to being stubborn (denying the truth to yourself). In fact, being an idealistic science nut, I believe the opposite: flexibility and willingness to change are the things that keep you alive, keep you healthy, and push the limits of longevity. And I believe that’s why we have instinct. Instinct is the evolutionary mechanism, not saving face for the good of some abstract lofty social notion or some emotion like fear.

Proving ourselves wrong: though it can feel “good” in the short term, in the long term, it just hurts everyone. It slices at your self-esteem. It beats you down. Many have been doing it so long, they don’t even realize what a battering they’ve subjected themselves to. I don’t think it’s natural, I don’t think it benefits anyone, and I don’t think it’s necessary to keep society churning. I think it’s an outdated social superimposition. Even if it is “natural”, aren’t we innovative enough to find a way of living that is both beneficial to society and the individual? Ignoring what we know to be true creates a dissonance, and projection is bound to result. This festering reactivity tears the individual down, turning adults into unsatisfied, miserable infants.

We’re going to have to move away from the hierarchical structure that teaches people to subvert their own intuition for some supposed survival benefit or “the good of all”. It’s fear-based, and it’s just not healthy. “Keeping people in line” with guilt, shame, and regrets may have been effective in the Middle Ages, I guess, but we don’t need it. That was society out of balance with nature, yet we’re still clinging to it psychologically.

Stop proving yourself wrong – it’s not benefiting anyone, least of all you. I don’t believe that life is a Hegelian zero-sum game. I believe we’re smart enough to make life a win-win.

Foibles. Scruples. Mistakes. Welcome to life: don’t let the regrets hit you on the way out.

More Monday Moments:

Why Partying Is Healthy

Why Nervousness Is Good

Do You Mean What You Say? Big Deal.

The Devil You Know…

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15 Jun

Mineral Makeup, Michael Moore and More

WORKER BEES’ WEEKLY BUZZ

8 Glasses of Water a Day? Theory Springs a Leak

Thanks to Calorie Lab for mopping up this “urban legend”. (Dartmouth Medical School)

Mineral Makeup Is Mostly Made of Marketing

We blogged about this earlier this year, and now WebMD has just come out with a thorough analysis of mineral makeup (popular brands include Bare Escentuals and Bare Minerals). The verdict? Not only are these “minerals” no different from the minerals that have always been used in makeup, there’s absolutely no proof of any health benefit.

There’s a Culture with No Word for ‘Worry’?

It’s always valuable to gain some healthy perspective on our own culture by learning about another. See why “worry” and “want” aren’t essential to your vocabulary. (via Vital Votes)

High-Carbohydrate Diets Linked to High Blood Pressure

Brian of That’s Fit notes this news piece. (Though he writes that diets high in carbs are high in monounsaturated fats, which cause high blood pressure. This is a bit of a garbling, as refined carbs are not typically high in monounsaturated fats, and in fact that’s the problem: these fats are very healthy. Think olive oil and nuts. Oops, Brian!) (Reuters)

Pharma and Michael Moore: Clash of the Cooties

Big Pharma is none too thrilled with Moore’s latest celluloid polemic, Sicko.

The Future of Medicine: the Internets!

You were just learning about Web 2.0, and along comes Web 3.0. Or you have no idea what we’re talking about. Scoot over to this interesting post detailing the exciting technological future of online health.

Court Must Decide if There Is Autism-Vaccine Link

Now that’s a fun job. No pressure. Check out the news, then visit our favorite autism blog, Autism Vox, for a good perspective.

Get a Room: FDA and Drug Companies Are Cozy

And you thought Dick Cheney met with the energy corporations a lot. It turns out the FDA and drug companies meet so frequently, it’s one big campfire kumbayah.

Introducing Nanofood

Forget “natural” (so 80s!). And “lite” (hello, 90s). “Organic”? Whatever. The really hot food is nanofood.

Alli Folly

Mark has blogged about the unsafe, ineffective, we-really-need-a-blockbuster-drug Alli from GlaxoSmithKline. It’s hitting shelves, so educate yourself.

FDA Cracks Down on Body Part Harvesting

The dark side of funeral homes. Unbelievable. (Note: sensitive viewers may want to skip this one.)

Possible Link between Genetically Engineered Foods and Allergies

The debate continues.

Better Than Bypass: the Expanding Gelatin Blob

Our friends at Diet Blog chat about the hilarious implications of this ball of industrial goo.

New blog: Burning the Scale by Claire

Mark will be in later answering your health questions. Have a great weekend, Apples!

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14 Jun

We Make Food That Tastes Like Other Food!

NOT-SO-SMART FUEL

Remember when Mark blogged about the wilting of his Salad Love Affair thanks to the miraculous arrival of Flat Earth “healthy” chips? I happened upon this humorous review of one of the Flat Earth products: specifically, their peach and mango chips. The review is short and hilarious, so be sure you check out the clickativity.

My favorite quote:

“If you want the flavor of peaches or mangos, there are some good options out there for getting your fill. For example, you could buy some peaches and mangos, and eat them.”

What’s with food that’s engineered just to taste like…other food?

flatearth

For newbie readers, don’t miss some of our most popular recent posts exposing things like mold sold to us as vegetarian protein (gulp!), Mark’s harrowing escape from Vegan Island, great sources of good carbs for even the most dedicated carb haters, and the question we all want answered: why are potato chips more expensive than filet mignon???

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14 Jun

Grubs, Part 2

Last week I outlined my basic philosophy of nutrition, informed by my evolutionary biology knowledge. Or, as I call it, Primal Health. The lifestyle is simple: peer into the past at how our robust ancestors lived and take some notes from the DNA handbook (well, I’ll do that part).

Before the advent of agriculture, before the industrial revolution, and certainly before the modern era of fast food, long commutes, and sedentary office jobs, humans had evolved into the amazing creatures that they still are. To say we’re amazing isn’t anthropocentric – all creatures are amazing in the sense that they are finely tuned to survive in their niche. We are no different. For the delicacy of our skin, eyes, and bones, the susceptibility to environmental and emotional stress, and the infectious side effects of communal living, we are remarkably resilient. But it’s really our intelligence that has gotten us this far. Are we powerful? Well, not really, compared to apes. Sturdy? Again, nope. Our young take longer than just about any other mammal to mature (and also come with tuition bills). But brains? We have massive, enormously complex brains.

My Primal Health philosophy is really a marriage of ancient and high-tech. I believe we should harness the power of our knowledge, tools and intelligence to maximize human health and longevity. And the place to start is in our ancestral blueprints – our DNA – which haven’t changed in 10,000 or more years.

dna

Great, Sisson. What does this mean for dinner?

Early humans were omnivorous (though in fact, there’s a bit of scavenger in the old DNA as well). I don’t consider my diet the Caveman Diet, as that’s a bit of a misnomer anyway. Rather, my “diet” is simply the very natural lifestyle I adhere to based upon what our genetic composition (that DNA blueprint) tells us about our highly successful evolution and adaptation. I attribute many, if not most, of our health problems – including mental health conditions – to a diet and lifestyle that’s severely out of sync with human physiology. I’ll be discussing the implications of this for exercise and stress in further articles, but today, let’s talk about the tastier aspects of primal health: what’s for dinner?

Keep reading…

14 Jun

Healthy Tastes Great!

This delectable pairing of salmon and vegetables grilled over an open flame is perfect for those warm summer nights. Go on. Get “Primal” with your diet.
Grilled Salmon

grilledsalmon

Grilled Vegetables

ei1c03 grilled vegetables e

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