Meet Mark

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...

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Category: Stress Management

7 Nighttime Rituals to Help You Unwind, Relax, and Chill Out (That Don’t Involve Alcohol)

Last week, I shared my evolving relationship with alcohol. I’m off it, basically. A big change has been at night; a glass or two of wine with Carrie used to be my nighttime ritual. It would help me unwind from a stressful day, relax and reconnect with my wife, and get me ready for bed. So when I decided to give up alcohol – or at least make it an occasional rather than regular indulgence – I knew I had to figure out another way to unwind before bed. I haven’t really settled on anything yet. I’ve only explored some of the research on nighttime unwinding and thought I’d share my findings with you.

I’m not going to include routine, everyday advice like “Read a book” or “Have sex” or “Listen to calming music,” despite their effectiveness. You already know about them so it would just be redundant (but do them nonetheless!).

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Dear Mark: Tweaking Sprints for a Stressful Life; Carrie’s Primal Transition

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I answer one question and Carrie answers another. First up is one from Diane, a (full-time) working mother who’s noticed something interesting about her variable response to sprinting: when she’s relaxed and low-stress or on vacation, sprints lean her out; when she’s working and inundated with stress and responsibilities and concerns, sprints make her retain or even gain body fat. Since she realizes the power of sprinting and doesn’t want to give it up completely, Diane wants a few tips for hacking sprints on a high-stress lifestyle. Next, Carrie gives a quick overview of her transition into the Primal lifestyle and breaks down what Primal living looks like for her these days.

Let’s get into it:

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A Primal Primer: Leaky Gut

After I mentioned it in last week’s 10 Principles of Primal Living (Finally) Getting Mainstream Media Coverage post, several readers emailed asking about leaky gut. What is it? How do I know if I have it? Why should I care if I have it? What do I do if I have it? And so on. Turns out many and maybe most people have but a vague idea of what leaky gut actually means.

Today, I’m going to fix that.

In most popular conceptions of human physiology, the gut exists primarily as a passive conduit along which food travels and breaks down for digestion and absorption. It’s where bacteria hang out and digestive enzymes go to work. It’s a “place,” an inert tunnel made of flesh and mucus. Lots of things happen there but the gut itself isn’t doing much.

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How to Ensure Your Final Years Are Good Ones

We talk about aging gracefully, but what does it mean? How does one age gracefully? To me, it means ensuring your final years are good ones. Basically, we want to avoid the “regular” maladies of aging like dementia, osteoporosis, blindness, sarcopenia, and immobility. We want to live long and drop dead, not live long and wither away from a host of degenerative illnesses that prevent our ability to enjoy or even experience life, relegated to a bare room tucked away in a building somewhere. That scares me more than anything, more than heart disease or cancer or shark attacks: helplessness.

When I’m nearing 100, I want to be able to…

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A Beginner’s Guide: Why You Should Practice Meditation and How to Get Started

In response to last week’s “Rethinking Stress” article, a number of readers noted the relevancy of meditation to the insight. Meditation, of course, isn’t something that changes our outer circumstances. It’s an inside job, so to speak. It can change our processing of stress by shifting our relationship to ourselves and to our own cognitive responses and emotional patterns. The result? We over time come to view our own reactions and feelings from a more grounded distance. We learn to observe our emotions instead of letting them run the show. We learn, in essence, to talk ourselves down from our own trees.

Meditation can seem like such a lofty thing, but it doesn’t need to. Anyone can do it, and everyone can benefit. So today I’d like to explore meditation; the health benefits it confers, how it may fit into an ancestral framework, and how to get started. Let’s jump right in.

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Rethinking Stress: It Could Save Your Life

Think back to the last time you were under stress. What kind of physical symptoms can you recall?

Pounding heart. Increased pulse rate. The sensation of blood rushing through your body and brain. A narrowing of focus, your thoughts and gaze centered on the stressor itself; and then, suddenly, you’re scatterbrained. Anxiety. Your stomach a pit apparently filled with fluttering, winged insects. These are all familiar to anyone who’s faced down a deadline, bull in the arena, mounting stack of bills, or mugger.

But those symptoms also show up at other times in response to different situations. Mustering up the courage to ask a girl or guy out? Trying to make a move on the first date? Preparing to take a big test? Stepping up to the free throw line for potentially game-winning or game-losing foul shots? Psyching yourself up minutes before a public performance? You’re going to feel anxious and sweaty, your pulse will pound and you’ll exhibit all the classic symptoms of being under immense amounts of stress. But you’re not actually in danger. You’re under pressure. You’re gearing up to perform. Your nervous system is preparing you to handle the coming task.

Let’s look at those symptoms differently for a second.

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