The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
I’ve always loved to camp. From my early days as a kid growing up in Maine (where it seemed like everyone camped), to my death-defying adventures with Outward Bound in the wilds of New England as a teen, to my current setup running a business in the Malibu hills, I’ve been a camper. Even when I’d dedicated my life to endurance training and had little time for anything else, I always made it a point to get away to the woods with the family for a few nights whenever I could. The reasoning was basic: it was relaxing, enjoyable, decompressing, and just plain fun. And that’s why most people camp. It just feels right, doesn’t it?
It’s always interesting to be in this business and read the health headlines. So often, they seek to hook us with the promise of ultimate clarity: “Rehabing Health: Diet or Fitness First?” or “Should I Sleep or Exercise?” The underlying assumption is that there’s a conclusive rule to this – that we all conform to the same pattern, a universal law that will remake the game for everyone.
Sure, I believe our physiology conforms to some pretty standard principles. The Primal Blueprint is based on them. As such, I incorporate these direct-route, often multi-functional strategies whenever and wherever I can. But my work and life experience have taught me something important about these laws and “hacks”. The mental versions of these, when properly and personally applied, tend to have the biggest and broadest impact.
Both my kids are grown now, but I still enjoy thinking back on the days when they were little. I can still see them covered in sand while digging on the beach, waiting enthusiastically for the next wave to knock them over, lost in whatever games their eager minds had come up with that day. While they definitely had their share of irritable days (mostly when tired or hungry), most of the time they were pure exuberance and unbridled energy – alternating between a wide-lens, darting awe of what was around them and a laser focus on whatever new treasure they had fixated on.
Likewise, they hadn’t yet absorbed conventional answers or expectations. Other than a few basic rules Carrie and I prioritized, they moved through their days with pure instinct. They let us know what they wanted (e.g. hugs, food) and were likely in much better touch with their needs than we were with our own as tired, busy parents.
I’m not interested in talking about Supreme Court decisions, the Affordable Health Care Act or for-profit versus non-profit business models. No, today I have something else in mind. It’s a perspective on health insurance that gets almost no attention at all despite the high costs and even higher stakes.
Let’s look at an actual definition first. From Wikipedia: “Health insurance is insurance against the risk of incurring medical expenses among individuals.” And can those darn expenses ever get expensive… Just as budget experts and lifestyle minimalists advise that the best price is no price when that’s an option, I’d argue the same principle applies here. The cheapest health bill is no bill. And what if our daily choices could help make this possible?
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First up, what’s the deal, exactly, with melatonin supplementation? Is it harmful? Dangerous? Will it impair our body’s own production of melatonin? Second, a reader wonders whether his past poor health decisions are sabotaging his health today. Even if he’s feeling great now, shouldn’t he worry about the permanent effects from all that pizza he ate and sleep he didn’t get back in the day? And finally, some people recommend against sprinting or high intensity interval training for women. Is it true? Should women only go gently into the gym to tread lightly on ellipticals and avoid all that sweaty, icky fast stuff?
Let’s find out:
In most Western nations, napping is a sign of weakness. Those who do it — or, even worse, need it — are slothful wastes of resources who can’t hack it in the “real world.” They lack grit, determination, and stick-to-itiveness. They’re getting old. Why nap when you can put in more hours, be more productive, make (your employer) more money? Naps are for babies and senior citizens and other non-productive members of society. They simply aren’t tolerated in able-bodied adults.
Yeah: as much as people are willing to pay lip service to the importance of a solid eight hours every night (actually sleeping that many hours is another thing entirely), most do not seriously entertain the value of napping. That’s a real mistake, because not only do humans have a long and storied tradition of snoozing in the middle of the day, there are also huge benefits to naps. Far from being anti-productivity wastes of time, a well-timed nap can boost cognitive function, improve work output, and make you healthier, happier, and a better employee (and person).