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

Mark's Daily Apple

31 May

Making a Difference

As our friend, the Fuming Fuji, is always quick to point out, marketing garbage to children is a dirty business – which is why we are happy to introduce you to Amy Jussel. As the founder and executive director of Shaping Youth, Amy is doing her part to clean up the filth.

Her organization, via the popular blog, tackles all issues related to the influence that media and corporate marketing schemes have on children. They take on big problems, like pre-teen body image and childhood obesity, and expose the tricks that giant advertising firms use to manipulate your children.

In the near future, we will have the pleasure of featuring an interview with Amy Jussel on Mark’s Daily Apple. In the meantime get behind the counter-marketing efforts of and check out a few of our favorite articles.

Junk Food Branding Hits the Drug Dealing World: A Reprise

Online Media Nutrition Calculator Helps Parents Track Foods

Sour Combo: Shrek’s “Apples & Milk” at McDonalds

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31 May

How Long Do I Have to Exercise Before I See Changes?

Short answer: probably a lot longer than you want.

Long answer: I tend to cover a lot of nutrition, food marketing and diet issues, but fitness is also a crucial factor in overall health, so I’m eager to discuss exercise issues in greater detail. Truth is I spend a fair amount of time coaching, speaking and writing in the fitness world, particularly triathlon but weight loss to some extent.

Exercise is a vital component of not just weight loss and weight management, but stress relief, energy, sleep, aging, disease prevention, bone health, and on and on it goes…but it’s easy (and maybe more fun) to exclusively focus on the nutrition and diet issues and forget that we have to move our lazy buns once in a while. Leaving exercise out of the wellness equation is far more destructive to your health than any number of diet “sins” you might commit. Notwithstanding the fact that I believe our standard American diet is largely responsible for most of our health problems and most common causes of death, the importance of exercise cannot be overstated.

We don’t exercise for many reasons.

Eating is not a habit, but a necessity. After all, no one really forgets to eat for very long. And it’s usually rather enjoyable to change food selections and to modify our diets for the better, for we get immediate psychological rewards: control, accomplishment, tangibility. Exercise is also a necessity, but as it’s no longer integral to our daily lives – few people plow an acre of sod nowadays – it feels like a chore. No one likes a chore, and establishing a chore as an ingrained habit is tough. Life’s rewards require elbow grease, and that will never change. If exercise were easy or yielded quick results, I suppose everyone would be doing it. Exercise is certainly worth the effort, and not in spite of the challenge, but because it is a challenge. The long-term health rewards of exercise – outside of the brief blast of endorphins following your workout – are not always initially apparent and certainly not immediate.

If we don’t view exercise as an unpleasant chore, we view it as a means to an end: getting a leaner or sexier body. Those fitness infomercials feature guys with six-packs and Christie Brinkley for a reason – we all want to look like that. But the reality is that even the fittest folks are not necessarily going to end up looking “like that”. You can only maximize what you’ve got. I believe that we have to stop thinking of exercise as a vanity tool and remember that it’s simply a basic necessity of life. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be excited about using exercise to lose weight if you hope to shed some extra pounds. But we fall off the proverbial treadmill over and over again because we’re getting on it for the wrong reasons in the first place – exercise is about far more than weight loss.

So, how long before you see results?

You really can’t fight your genes. I witnessed one young woman I coach become sleek and toned after seemingly two sessions with weights and a few rounds of yoga – it’s easier when you’re young, of course. Another guy I work with exercises day in, day out, and has for two years now; although he’s fit and lean, he will never look like Bruce Lee no matter how hard he tries. (It’s worth noting that if you start your children on exercise – such as a sport – from an early age, they’ll develop muscles that will stay with them for a lifetime, even if they gain a little weight down the road as we all tend to do.)

There is some justice: the longer you exercise, the easier it will be to make changes to your shape. That said, results are different for everyone. It’s a complex equation of existing muscles, your natural build, metabolism, fat distribution and many other factors. You actually do get an immediate health boost from exercise, but let’s be honest: how many are really after that? Most of us give up on exercise after a few weeks or even a few days because we don’t see the desired physical results. People like the aforementioned young lady are rare; most of us have to put in months before seeing any real improvement.

The point is, if you’re asking that question – how long before I see results – the answer is almost always: much longer than you want. Hang in there; change will happen. We all want to look good, and many of us want or need to lose weight. Those are healthy and admirable goals. But while exercise can and does help with these goals, at the end of the day, we’ve got to realign our thinking and remember that exercise, more than anything, is just a necessity for health, and despite what the marketers would have us feel, that is reason enough.

Please share your thoughts on exercise, your challenges, and your successes, with me in the forum. I’d love to hear your perspective.

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More Sisson Said What? posts

Most popular posts

30 May

You Best Be Clickin’!


Soft Drinks Disrupt Your DNA

Yikes! Even diet soda is unhealthy for you.

What’s It Like to Go Global?

The complex and interesting web of global food production.

Is Cancer a Virus?

Is cancer a virus, a fungus, an autoimmune disorder, a collection of symptoms? Oncology just got a lot more complicated.

Web it out:

The Strange History of Cheese

What Are Gourmet Chefs Up to These Days? Foie gras ice cream and truffle popsicles, apparently. This is a fascinating picture-filled piece about avant garde culinary feats.

Link Love:

We’ve gotten some really nice feedback and reviews in the last few days. First, Highlight Health (a very spiffy health site from a biochemist blogger) was kind enough to add us to the blogroll. Then, Eating Fabulous, our favorite nutrition blog, gave us some love, and next, the original Daily Apple (yes, turns out, there is another!) reviewed us. The other Daily Apple covers all kinds of topics, but naturally we dug into the health posts, and we were really impressed. The health articles are all very useful, clear, and similar in format: an interesting introduction, a helpful list of points, and plenty of good references for every single topic discussed (a very nice thing indeed). And seize-the-health-by-the-horns Kevin was nice enough to nominate us for a Blogger’s Choice Award! Thank you so much, everyone, for the encouragement and support.

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More Worker Bees’ Daily Bites

Most Popular Posts

30 May

If Only Blogging Burnt More Calories

Hi everyone! As you know I’m always scanning the web for the latest healthy developments in Web 2.0. Though I’ve retired Aaron’s Additions in favor of Aaron’s Awards (because who doesn’t love a good laugh now and then?), I can’t help but be impressed by the insane popularity of fatblogging. I want to highlight fatblogging because I am such a big fan of positive social trends. Though I rant from time to time, ultimately it’s the positive healthy developments that get me the most excited. I spent all weekend checking out literally hundreds of inspiring, funny, excellent, and, well, not-so-excellent fatblogs. I am including my favorites here because I want to provide a little inspiration to you if you’re feeling compelled to make a change to your waistline or your health (or both!). These people prove that it can be done. The coolest thing about this? You’ve got a whole network of support ready to go! If you want to lose weight, consider joining the fatblogging phenomenon. There’s a whole web of friendliness there for the asking.

Peanut Blog and Jelly

Half of Me

Weight of the Evidence

The Incredible Shrinking Ladies

Blogging While Fat

U-Turn: My Journey To Health

Cranky Fitness

Confessions of a Jersey Girl

Losing a Hundredweight

Once Upon a Diet

The Shrinking Knitter

Once Upon a Fat Girl

Total Transformation

Always Hungry

Lose Weight With Me

The Grumpy Chair Dieter

Color Me Fit

Actually, I’m NOT Pregnant

Someday Is Now

Kim Under Construction

Hopeful Loser

Goodbye, Belly

Fat for now… thin 4 life!

The Daily Struggle

One Pound at a Time

Body of Work

Blissful Loser

Sister Skinny

Diary of a Fat, Angry Woman

Bonita Gordita

Fat Bloke Gets Fit!

A Weight Lifted

Dropping Off

Fatty Weight Loss

Share your favorite weight loss blog with fellow readers, or tell us what you think about the fatblog trend in the forum!

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30 May

Introducing a New Column: Primal Health


What is Primal Health?

In brief, “primal health” is my pet name for my point of view regarding all aspects of health, fitness, nutrition, and aging. Primal health describes my personal scientific bent and informs my diet and fitness regimens – indeed, my whole lifestyle – and has for over two decades.

I believe it is clear that every aspect of human health must, of necessity, examine first how our lifestyle impacts (and interacts with) our “primal” DNA blueprints that reached final draft some 10,000 years ago. If you’ve heard of the Paleo Diet or the celebrity Caveman Diet, you’re in good company.

Of course, we now know that “Caveman” is a scientific misnomer, but it’s a memorable and handy term, if slightly inaccurate. My friend, scientist and respected blogger, Art DeVany, refers to this health lifestyle as “evolutionary fitness”. My unique spin is more…primal.

As many of you know, I was a top marathoner and triathlete for many years, making a name for myself in the early 1980s at Ironman and the U.S. National Marathon Championships, among other events. As an elite athlete in the prime of his youth, I was anything but healthy, however. The intense level of peak output required of a “top” athlete is enormously destructive to the body. (As an aside, it’s my personal – admittedly untested – theory that the incredible amount of oxidative damage, hormone depletion and repetitive strain male athletes endure has at least something to do with the inordinately commonplace receding hairlines among these otherwise “healthy” men.)

The infections, illnesses and injuries I faced only grew more frequent and aggressive as time wore on and my list of accomplishments grew. Though I was in better racing shape than 99.9% of humans on the planet, my body was telling me something: this extreme level of fitness was not a part of nature’s design.

I had graduated from Williams College with a degree in biology. Science has always been a passion of mine and something of a career as well (though I have always published for lay press rather than journals). I retired from sport convinced that the athlete’s way of life, which includes stressful and even reckless consumption of insane amounts of calories – largely refined carbs and even pure glucose – is no more sane or healthy than the diet of your average Westerner. In particular, Americans are living a lifestyle that is in direct opposition to the beautiful and brilliant system evolution yielded. I believe that, but you don’t have to take my word for it. A basic understanding of human development and even the most cursory review of historically healthy cultures and current scientific studies lends credence to my increasingly passionate perspective, Primal Health.

The impetus for this column comes from my personal experience, my accumulated knowledge, and simply, passion. When I started this blog I had a few goals in mind: I definitely wanted this to be a blog for the “average Joe”, and I wanted it to be fun. I genuinely believe laughter and humor should never be in short supply in any field of human endeavor. Joy is a fundamental human need, and while I’m not making any claims to comedic brilliance, I at least felt that my enthusiastic “Bees”, and to some extent even middle-aged me, could have quite a riot and still learn and discuss a lot along the way. Ultimately, however, sharing and dissecting what we mean by terms like “primal health” is my primary goal for this forum.

I believe we are on the cusp of radical change in the way we eat, move, and live. If evolution has taught us anything, it teaches us about survival and change. I think we are at the brink of a shift, out of true necessity. Never have we had access to so much information. Never have humans, even the most uneducated among us, had so much knowledge and access. In the grand scale of evolution, we have great blessings: we have all the tools, information and intelligence required to enjoy not only historically unmatched longevity but incredible quality of life as well. Obviously, the current lifestyle leaves much to be desired. In light of what our ancestors had to make do with, and in light of how smart and innovative humans can be, I think the current state of affairs is morally vulgar. That’s not a judgment against humanity; it’s a sad observation of reality. And we’re all complicit in it to the extent that we don’t participate in learning and change.

No issue is more important than health. I believe our unhealthy lifestyle creates nearly every problem we face. We live in a fast-paced, mass-produced, really unsustainable society. Everyone knows this, yet I wonder if people truly stop to grasp the stupefying meaning of this. Only 100 years ago, life was not just different, but radically so. We fret about the high rates of car accidents, suicides, murders, preventable deaths, and so on. While I think we could be doing loads better – why else would I be writing – I actually think it’s amazing that, for example, we aren’t seeing more car accidents every day. 100 years ago virtually no one owned a car. My daughter read the Ramona Quimby books when she was a little girl, and found it pretty funny that the character Ramona raved about “tearing along at 25 miles an hour” with her crazy uncle in his new-fangled contraption. Yet now, we all regularly clock 60 or 70 miles in an hour, whizzing within inches of other vehicles, and don’t give it a second thought. I am nothing short of dazzled by the rapid pace of adaptation and amazing resilience of human beings. In light of the huge levels of stress we subject ourselves to, our collective improvement is impressive. (Think how much better it could be.) We’re quite a piece of work!

But all this change does have a profound impact. It’s catching up with us, and there’s no escaping the messiness of evolutionary change. In the long term, it’s beautiful, but in the short term, trapped in the tiny fragment of human time, it’s enormously stressful. We’re not outside the bounds of evolution – we’re a product of it. We cannot, must not, fail to pay heed to its lessons. Our lifestyle is simply not supported by our bodies (though we flag along). Our workday, which demands 8 productive hours at a minimum, is not really healthy. Depression, anxiety and other uniquely modern plights shouldn’t surprise us.

Simply put, I am deeply concerned by the wide-ranging negative effects produced by our modern lifestyle, particularly the Western one. Our federal government’s health recommendations are not only ignorant in light of evolutionary biology, the whole system is apparently corrupt.

Last night I caught a blurb with an illustrated sidebar in Time magazine that highlights the issues surrounding the new Farm Bill (Congress revises every five years). I’ve railed sarcastically against the various programs, mascots and pyramids our FDA and federal government promote. But the situation is real and the importance cannot be overstated. No matter what your dietary health persuasion – Atkins, Pritikin, Paleo, Caveman, or “Primal health” – no one disagrees that plant foods (vegetables and fruits) are not being consumed in great enough numbers. Not even close.

The facts are telling:
– The government heavily subsidizes factory farmed meat, corn, soybean and wheat, yet has not and will not support fruit and vegetable farmers. Fruits and vegetables are considered “speciality crops”.

– From Time: “Each day, 25% of U.S. adults eat fast food.”

– Our number one “vegetable”? The potato chip, only seconded by the French fry. Of course, if you have studied our Paleolithic origins, you’ll know that early humans avoided things like potatoes – and grains – entirely. Why? These foods are toxic and inedible unless heavily processed and cooked. Our bodies, through thousands upon thousands of years of natural adaptation, figured out which foods were edible and which weren’t. The advent of grain agriculture some 10,000 years ago was not a healthy development for the human body.

– Also from Time: “The USDA offered…how agricultural policies might support rather than subvert dietary guidelines spelled out in its new food pyramid.”

Our government is providing a corporate welfare state at the expense of public health, and directly contradicting its dietary recommendations offered in the ever-ignorant food pyramid. I continue to be baffled. I’m a capitalist; I produce a line of what I believe are very carefully-researched nutritional supplements, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care if people tried them out. But me calling out the subsidizing of entire industries that are in direct contradiction to what is needed for optimal human health hardly makes me unpatriotic, a conspiracy theorist or any other insulting and invalid adjective we “crazy” promoters of alternative health theories get smacked with.

The cultish promotion of grains and dairy as ideal human foods is nothing more than religion and propaganda. It doesn’t benefit anybody but the industries. It’s welfare, it’s jingoistic, it’s ignorant, it’s ascientific. Unfortunately, thanks to corporate interests and effective lobbying, our government supports this lunacy and the industry-funded studies have converted many a soul. But human evolutionary history does not support the federal recommendations, it doesn’t support our modern lifestyle, and it doesn’t support even the newest pyramid, which is an admitted improvement over the prior one but still in complete contradiction of scientific evidence. Sooner or later, this will catch up with us, and I believe the “sooner” has hit the fan.

Anytime the truth meets with belief, you can be sure that insults, derision and even legal persecution will ensue. Governments and institutions attacking or writing off science is nothing new – that’s a practice as old as humanity itself. Indeed, that’s coded in our DNA.

We’re built to form groups and social structures, we’re hard-wired to “tribe up”, we’re well-suited to lying and corruption. That’s survival. That’s evolution. Ironic, isn’t it? Only now, Americans’ health is on the line, and our very planet is feeling the effects of our over-consumption and irresponsible food production techniques. We aren’t a healthy population – far from it. True, we’re living longer and, thanks to drugs and surgery, arguably “better” than we ever have, but the potential – for much better health, for responsible stewardship of this planet – is so great, we’re foolish to think greater change isn’t in order. Our top 5 causes of death are preventable. The majority of us are overweight. I’d argue that the majority of people are also stressed-out to a spectacular degree. We are, I believe, a society in tremendous physical, social and psychological pain. Our lifestyle is not one that is sustainable. There’s a surgery for every physical problem, a drug for every social one, a pill for every mental issue. All are masking the pain of a population grossly out of touch with our “primal” needs.

With rapid changes come consequences. Fortunately, we are in a better position than any humans have been at any time in history to radically and intelligently address the consequences. Will reason have its day at last?

Next week, I’ll cover just what this “primal health” lifestyle is all about. It’s not “extreme”, it’s not Atkins; it’s easy to do. I welcome your thoughts and I encourage you to tell me what you think in the forum. Any comment is appreciated and I welcome constructive criticisms.

My diet

My thoughts on carbs

My carb pyramid

My thoughts on veganism

Most popular articles

Human evolution

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