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
For today’s Dear Mark, I’m answering just a single reader question, but it’s a big one. Janice and her husband have endured their family’s light-hearted ribbing about their “caveman lifestyle” for years. Now that the paterfamilias of the clan is severely obese, almost 80 years old, and recovering from a relatively mild stroke, the family has turned to Janice’s expertise for help changing his ways. How can she convince her father that it’s never too late to get healthy? That changing your diet, exercise, and lifestyle can improve even the most unhealthy person’s trajectory and enjoyment of life? She’s confident that if she can just get through to her dad, the rest of the family—who also needs an intervention—will inevitably follow suit.
Let’s give it a shot:
No longer the sole province of the hemp-swathed sprouting enthusiast, meditation’s popularity has exploded across our collective faces. Tech companies have embraced mindfulness meditation as the ultimate productivity. Google has “mindful lunches,” complete with prayer bells and hour-long vows of silence. And as legitimate meditation researchers uncover more benefits to our brains, our bodies, and our psyches, diehard rationalists have been forced to accept the scientific merits of mindfulness.
My explanation for why interest in meditation has grown is that it’s a replacement for the nature in which we no longer reside. For hundreds of thousands of years, we spent our days in natural settings where much of the mind chatter stops and we exist in the present moment. The falling leaves sparkling overhead with sunlight. The herky-jerk scamper of a startled lizard just off the trail. The erratic brilliant butterfly fluttering through the scene that you can’t help but stop to watch. That was life for most of human history. It wasn’t special. It was home. It’s what we knew.
It’s okay to do the double take—dispositional mindfulness. How’s that?
By now most people have heard of mindfulness meditation. I’ve written a bit about it for the blog, also noting that other forms of deep relaxation practice tend to work better for me. As quiet blocks of time devoted to emptying the mind and bringing awareness to your breath as well as other body sensations, meditation can clear away conscious thought and let us rest in a deep calm, triggering the feel-good, health-promoting hormonal effects of the body’s potent relaxation response. Research has shown regular practice for even just a couple months literally changes the brain’s structure and confers a whole host of health advantages. But what about the application of a mindful approach to everyday life rather than a particular “practice”?
Last week I took up the subject of health through the varying stages of life. What does health mean to us? How should we develop it or live it within the scheme of the different stages we go through as logistical events and developmental maturity shift the focus and parameters of our lives? How do our major milestones challenge our approach to well-being? Let’s pick up that topic again and finish off the discussion. I hope you’ll share your own thoughts on how differing stages of life influenced your thinking about health and what approaches fit the times best for you.
Print this out. Bookmark it. Send it to friends who don’t quite get the Primal thing. Consider this a valuable resource for all-things Primal. It’s a nice, alphabetical encapsulation of what it means to lead a Primal lifestyle. It’s not everything, of course. You can always dig deeper into the details, but this summary gives a high-level look at just about everything.
Without further ado, I present The A-to-Z Guide to Leading a Primal Lifestyle.
Avoid chronic cardio. I spent about half my life running (and later, with triathlons, swimming and cycling) myself into the ground. I thought the more miles I could log, the healthier I’d be. That’s the mindset many people have, and it’s absolutely wrong. Running a ten-miler is different than running a ten-miler every day. We have the capacity to go long distances and even outlast wild animals upon which we’re preying. We don’t have the capacity to do that every single day without consequences to our health. Run long distances if you love it, compete if you love competing, but know the cost it incurs.
It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon. What’s the condition of your backside? Can you feel your legs, or did at least one of them fall asleep a few hours ago? And your back? Neck, shoulders – how much tension are they carrying at this point in the day? Not to mention your mood and concentration? Does your attitude take a nosedive this time of day? Has your brain turned to mush? Did you just have to read the same set of instructions or email memo a couple of times because your mind wandered off? How often do you end up feeling like this in a typical afternoon?
And…when was the last time you got up and moved – beyond a quick trip to the toilet or break room? I sense a lot of blank stares on the other side of this screen.
Are you one of them, or did you identify with any of the above scenarios? Consider your day for a moment – specifically your activity level. How compartmentalized is it?