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’d usually make a point to talk about the “true meaning” of Christmas or whatever holiday you’re celebrating in the intro before launching into a huge commercial post about things you should buy this holiday season, but not this time. The following gifts are not pointless consumerist pap that your giftees will enjoy for a day or two until the newness wears off and they move on to the next thing to spend their money on. These are useful gifts. Gifts that enhance life, that further our relationships, that expand our culinary horizons, that compel us to go out and experience the world. There’s no shame in celebrating the holidays in this manner, because these are good gifts given out of love, fellowship, and friendship – all of which embody the true meaning of the season.
That said, let’s get to the gifts!
Anytime I’m in the presence of a crystal clear mountain stream, I think about how delicious it must taste. I want to drink from it, and deeply. But I do not, because I likely haven’t the constitution to resist and repel the microorganisms that reside in most every natural source of fresh water. If it were 20,000 years ago, I’d probably be equipped to handle the microbial load. It’s not, so I’m not. Thankfully, a little inexpensive contraption called the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter allows you to drink deeply – about 1000 liters-deep – from fresh water sources. Without using iodine, chlorine, or other disinfectant chemicals, the LifeStraw removes a minimum of 99.999% of waterborne bacteria and a minimum of 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites from water. NGOs engaged in humanitarian relief in countries with severely contaminated water use it, so it’s probably pretty effective on your average back country trek through streams that aren’t coursing with human feces. Note: it doesn’t filter out minerals. This can be good, if you’re getting magnesium, calcium, and other trace minerals modern drinking water is largely missing, but it can also be bad if you’re drinking from a stream issuing forth from an abandoned mercury mine.
Making Primal-friendly noodles from veggies is hard work. Unless you use the spaghetti squash, which if you bake it right kind of does the work for you. Zucchini, though? Other types of squash? Apples? Sweet potatoes? Carrots? Good luck. You try making noodles from Japanese sweet potatoes with only a knife and I’ll sit back and chuckle in your general direction. If there were a way to make veggie noodles without hours of backbreaking, tedious labor, it would make it way easier to enjoy Primal pasta sauces. Also, kids love things in noodle form; converting vegetables into noodles will help kids eat more vegetables. Anyway, this is a roundabout way of saying that there actually is an affordable, effective kitchen tool for making noodles out of vegetables: the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer.
Camping and backpacking are great and fun ways to commune with nature and realign yourself and your spirit – but the food’s terrible. People eating a standard American diet don’t find it too off-putting because it means they get to get delicious garbage like cold pop tarts, spam, instant oatmeal, and entire trays of Svenhard’s pastries. We Primals aren’t so lucky. Freeze-dried peas and carrots that you have to reconstitute with water. Endless jerky (I love jerky, but c’mon). Cans of sardines, tuna, and/or salmon (again, I love canned fish, but a man has a breaking point). Forget that. With the BioLite Wood Burning Campstove, a few handfuls of kindling that you found while scrounging around the campsite can heat food, cook real meals, and boil water (or bone broth from the half dozen chipmunks you “found”). It even includes a USB charger that yes, runs on sticks and twigs.
I’m sure we’d all love to be able to pluck fresh greens from our bountiful garden on demand, or walk to the local market for veggies every day around 10 “like they do in Europe.” In reality, most people have to rush over to the market sometime after work, fight crowds, wrestle for the last bag of kale with an older woman with surprisingly strong arms, and buy enough to last the week – because there’s no way we’re gonna make it back anytime soon. That’s a fine solution when you’re buying meat, root vegetables, and other foods that last awhile, but spinach, baby greens, romaine, and other less hearty leafy green vegetables tend to start wilting immediately upon arrival in your fridge. That’s the worst. Nothing worse than some slimy lettuce. The Vejibag, which we use extensively on the Primal Blueprint Luxury Retreats to prevent sliming, is almost magic. You make it a little damp, put just about any vegetable in there – leafy greens, salad makings, broccoli, cabbage, and the list goes on – and the bag will actually make the greens crisper than when they started. An essential tool for any salad fan out there.
It’s often not enough for chronic shoe wearers to go barefoot some of the time. If they keep their toes shoved into a tiny space fit for two, maybe three toes max during normal office hours, simply removing the shoes won’t restore the ancestral toe environment. You need to fight back. In order to counteract the toe compression, your toes require active expansion. You could fill the spaces between your toes with tightly packed cotton balls or rolled up documents, or you could wear Happy Feet Foot Alignment Socks. Foot Alignment Socks have built-in toe dividers that “reverse the effect of wearing narrow shoes.” If you or someone you know has feet like look like the “before” picture in this post, Happy Feet Foot Alignment Socks might make the feet happy.
I’m going to be a bit contrarian and maybe a little cheesy here and suggest that the most Primal gift you can give your kid (or nephew/niece, whatever the relationship may be) is your attention. Your immediate, full, undivided, unadulterated attention. Be present when you’re with them. This kid is going to get some tangible presents regardless, maybe even from you, so the Primal “non-gift” of simply being there with them in the moment(s) will be appreciated. Read a book. Throw a ball. Roughhouse. Go outside and dig around in the garden or the woods for bugs (heck, if you want to give a cool tangible gift, try a bug collecting kit!). Tell jokes. Watch A Christmas Story. Enjoy your time together.
You might recall my “leaning workstation” as seen in the How-to: Standup and Mobile Workstations video from a couple months ago, the Locus Seat from Focal. It’s sort of a human kickstand that allows me to alternate between leaning and standing. Leaning is kind of like sitting in that it takes the load off, just without shortening your hip flexors and turning your glutes into a amorphous gelatinous blobs. I love it. If you liked the look of it and want something similar, might I suggest the Mogo? It’s also made by Focal, and it’s of a similar design and also allows you to lean and stand, but it’s less expensive and more mobile, weighing just over 2 pounds and collapsing for easy storage. That means you can take it along with you to the office, the cafe, the great outdoors (laptop on a stump, anyone?), or when you travel, and get strange looks and lots of questions while you get work done.
Time off from active, engaged work is essential for a happy, healthy human being. There is simply no getting around that fact. If you know a workaholic – and modern America is rife with them – you know someone that needs a vacation. But not just any vacation. Weekend getaways up the coast and cute bed and breakfasts won’t cut it. For true workaholics putting in fifty, sixty hour weeks, checking email on the weekends and in bed, and never quite able to engage with actual, everyday life because his or her head’s always got one foot in the office, hardcore vacation is required. Next March, in Tulum, Mexico, we’ll be holding a fantastic, all-inclusive PrimalCon at one of Mexico’s premier resorts. Join me, Robb Wolf, and assorted Primal health and fitness experts for the vacation of a lifetime! Or, if Tulum’s not quite your bag, check out the fifth annual PrimalCon Oxnard in late September. Sun, fun, sand, and your Primal tribe. Only downside is you won’t get to practice your Spanish in Oxnard.
We all know how much blue light (from LED screens, light bulbs, electronic devices, and the atmosphere) can interfere with normal melatonin production and keep us from falling asleep. Proper sleep and normal circadian rhythm is vital for health and wellness. NASA knows too, which is why they asked a company called Definity Digital to design an LED bulb that removes most of blue light and allows melatonin to be released. The coolest part of all is that the light still looks white, so you can read, cook, and do just about anything else that requires adequate lighting without negatively impacting your circadian rhythm. Win win. The light is called Good Night, fits standard sockets, lasts longer than most other bulbs, and works with dimmers.
Let me get this off my chest: there is nothing wrong, and many things right, with coffee. I drink it myself, daily. But addiction is a bad thing, and when you’re measuring your coffee intake in pots, when you get a headache from even thinking about decaf, you’re probably addicted and you may want to reduce your intake of coffee. Luckily, there are other ways to increase focus, attention, mental acuity, and boost productivity. No, not methamphetamine. Blue light. As I wrote about a few weeks ago, blue light has been shown to increase wakefulness and boost cognitive function. It doesn’t even have to replace coffee; blue light and coffee are actually quite synergistic. That’s why I’ve chosen the Syrcadian Blue SB-1000 SAD Light Therapy device, which can be used against seasonal affective disorder or as a cognitive enhancer. You can even attach it to your car and get your dose of blue light on the morning commute.
The one major downside of going Primal is that packing your lunch for work or school can be an ordeal. It takes planning and special containers. You can’t just fill a sandwich bag with pot roast, or slop some of your homemade coconut soup into a lunchbox. No, your leftovers are often saucy, drippy, and require structure and a seal that won’t fail. You could go the glass tupperware route, but glass is heavy. Plastic solves that problem, but introduces potentially estrogenic compounds to your food. Enter LunchBots – a line of stainless steel receptacles for your food. Depending on which model you want, LunchBots can protect the structure of your lunch, keeps it from leaking out, keep food hot or cold, and is totally non-reactive. No plastic compounds, no BPA, no weird metallic or plastic-y taste worming its way into your meal.
For everyone and anyone else, we’ve got the perfect compendium of all the most important Primal literature, including The Primal Blueprint, The Primal Connection, The Primal Blueprint Cookbook, The Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals, and Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings & Toppings. With The Primal Blueprint Box Set, you get everything you or a loved one needs to get up to speed on all things Primal. Order a box set by Dec. 18 and you’ll save 20% off the retail price, and get free apparel, a free poster, a free shopping list and pen, and free Grok decal as detailed in this post.
And tomorrow, Denise Minger’s long-awaited book Death by Food Pyramid will be released. It makes a great gift, so be sure to check back tomorrow to pick up a copy or two and get some free goodies, including discount coupon codes for the Vejibag and Mogo gifts described above!
Looking for more gift ideas? I’ve been doing these posts on an annual basis, so check out these for even more primal present inspiration:
What about you, folks? What Primal gifts are you currently coveting? What are you giving out this year? Let us know in the comment section!