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...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
December 10, 2007

Sensible Vices

By Mark Sisson
54 Comments

One issue I have with our modern lifestyle – of many – is the emphasis on perfection. Newer, slimmer, bigger, better, faster: the message of perfection screams out to us from glossy magazines, slick television ads and popup ad after popup ad. (Or purrs, cajoles, teases, and smothers.) While I do believe fundamentally in pursuing whatever your personal best happens to be, and I think we could generally be doing far better in terms of diet and exercise, I have a hard time with the constant barrage of images telling us that, in short, we suck.

Which brings me to vices. I’m a pretty disciplined guy – okay, very disciplined – but I stop short of attempting perfection. Sure, I suppose I could forever kiss ice cream good bye (yes, Sisson still occasionally indulges). I could angst over those missed workouts when I’m vacationing with my wife and kids. I could work on my flaws and vices. But…why?

Great health is about maximizing the potential output for the minimum input. Philosophically, that’s what informs my Case Against Cardio. Wailing away for hours every day on the treadmill or measuring every calorie may yield you marginally more benefit than having that piece of dark chocolate or sharing that special cab, but such perfection puts the emphasis on the means rather than the end. After all, we work hard so we can look and feel good in order to enjoy life and get more out of our activities and interests.

“I’m with you, Mark, except…dark chocolate and red wine are good for you in moderate quantities.”

My point exactly! Many “vices” aren’t vices at all. Not only are many indulgences – when moderate and planned – good for you, they’re actually a sensible part of your personal health and prevention plan, as they’re more likely to give you a sense of value from your efforts. So stop flagellating the elliptical. Put away the carrots and raisins. Here are some very smart so-called vices:

5 Sensible Vices

1 – Dark Chocolate: most of us know by now that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and brain-stimulating compounds. I’d really be in trouble if that weren’t the case. Come Halloween my youngest never gets the chance to try the chocolate treats (don’t worry, he’s not a chocolate fan). I make that residual sweet tooth work for me by choosing dark chocolate and eating small portions. I don’t feel an ounce of guilt. Chocolate is great for your mood, so permit yourself this “vice”.

2 – Being a Couch Potato: while it’s important to exercise frequently – at least 4 times a week – it’s also important to take time to unhook from the hurried, stressful pace of modern life. I don’t watch television unless we’ve Tivo’d it first so we can skip all those obnoxious commercials. We’re really into movies in our household, but whatever you choose to veg out to, don’t feel guilty about “idle hands”. We all need time to decompress and be a little lazy.

3 – Wine and Beer: I have a beer or a glass of red wine with dinner, and if alcohol is something you enjoy and can consume moderately, go for it. Sure, these are “empty calories”, so you don’t want to go overboard, but the antioxidants are worth their weight in, well, liquid gold. Wine is a bit better for you than beer, but this is one relaxing “vice” you can sensibly enjoy.

4 – Steak and Bacon: oh boy, saturated fat. I don’t recommend eating traditionally-raised and chemically-loaded red meat, but grass-fed, uncured cuts are loaded with valuable fat, pure protein, and vital nutrients. Just make smart choices when you go for the more decadent meats. (No factory farm hunks and sodium-laced strips.)

5 – Playing Hooky: whether it’s work, a party, or practice, the occasional personal day is a great thing, as long as you don’t make it a habit. Use that time to catch up with a friend, have sex with your spouse (remember that?), get a massage, go window shopping, or flip through your favorite catalog. Give yourself a break!

The caveat: there’s always one. Whatever your “vices”, be sure they’re not self-destructive. Drugs, alcohol, days off and rich foods can quickly derail your health and your life, so choose smart.

srsphoto Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Sensible Vices: Round 2

How to Cheat

How to Eat More Chocolate and Drink More Wine Every Day

5 Tips to Avoid Temptation

Sponsor note:
This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

54 Comments on "Sensible Vices"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Koko
Koko
8 years 9 months ago

I totally ride the dark chocolate wave with you. The higher percentage cocoa, the better.

Dave C.
8 years 9 months ago

I broke down three days after Thankgiving and had a piece of pecan pie. My piece, before I ate it, did cover 1/3rd of the pie plate but I digress!
🙂 I’m giving in to some occaissonal “vices” on the food side, but I still have weight to lose before I join the “wine and dark chocolate” set.

Christian
Christian
8 years 9 months ago

There is a specific brand of chocolate that has 70% cocoa in it along with blueberries, anyone know what it is called??
It is my favorite chocolate bar, and it is healthy as well. It also goes great with Pinot Noir.

Ruth
Ruth
5 years 10 months ago

Maybe its the endangered species brand? My favorite are the panther (DARK chocolate) and the dark/raspberries one ( i think thats the grizzly bar maybe?)

trackback

[…] know we all have vices, but check out this list of sensible vices — Mark’s Daily […]

trackback

[…] know we all have vices, but check out this list of sensible vices — Mark’s Daily […]

Oxybeles
Oxybeles
8 years 9 months ago

Quite an important list. But I like tequila now and then, 100% agave. It’s from a succulent. I believe it had medicinal value for my mind….

Also, “…have sex with the spouse….” All that I have to do is make sure the spouse has some of that tequila or that red wine mentioned earlier! 😉

Donna
Donna
8 years 9 months ago

@ Christian
Have you ever once in a while melting down that dark chocolate and dipping a few “fresh” blueberries or strawberries, now that’s good stuff!!!

Danny
Danny
8 years 9 months ago

Mark, this is one of the things I enjoy most about your blog. A lot of the health and fitness sites – especially the latter – have a real “punish yourself” mentality which I can’t stand.

trackback

[…] Many “vices” aren’t vices at all […]

trackback
8 years 8 months ago

Heidi…

…Refurbished treadmill is basically rebuilt or remanufactured from the existing used treadmill……

trackback

[…] temptation, and the like. Yet, I also (let the record show) merrily encourage the importance of “sensible vices,” those splendid morsels (culinary or otherwise) of personal indulgence. We at MDA approach the […]

trackback

[…] Sensible Vices […]

trackback

[…] Sensible Vices […]

trackback

[…] Sensible Vices […]

trackback

[…] here: the compromises we choose and those we’re more or less handed by life. Those we elect, the sensible vices and occasional indulgences we adopt? They’re ours to own and savor. It’s the glass of wine, the […]

trackback

[…] The Original Sensible Vices […]

trackback

[…] My 100% commitment to paleo living has been going good. I guess I should mention, however, that I still drink beer or wine in moderation, have cream in my coffee and will have a bowl of chocolate ice cream once a week. I consider these my “sensible vices”. For more on that, head over to MDA and check out Mark’s article onsensible vices. […]

trackback

[…] we’re not dessert people but that we indulge in chocolate and red wine on occasion (i.e. those Sensible Vices). As a result, I’ve gotten to try a lot of the best chocolates out there (as well as a few duds). […]

trackback

[…] not about letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Avid apples know that we cherish our sensible vices. What constitutes a sensible vice differs from person to person based on what people truly enjoy, […]

Christoph Dollis
6 years 11 months ago

There is a specific brand of chocolate that has 70% cocoa in it along with blueberries, anyone know what it is called??

Blueberry 70% Cocoa Chocolate – Richfields

Christoph Dollis
6 years 11 months ago
trackback

[…] 1.  I’m sick of people telling me what is/isn’t “Primal”. Primal to me and the #primal hashtag on sites like Twitter, refers to the Primal Blueprint as laid out by Mark Sisson of Marks Daily Apple. This diet follows a 80/20 rule and allows for sensible vices. […]

trackback

[…] chocolate was my sensible vice of the […]

Nick Hoffman
6 years 8 months ago

Hey Mark. Why are steak and bacon considered vices? Provided they’re organic/hormone-free and grass-fed, I thought that they’re both staples of the PB.

trackback

[…] Sunday where you’ll pick the winner. A good moment is one that either shows excellent use of sensible vices, or a moment that exemplifies how you can pick yourself up and keep going Primal after a moment (or […]

Denise
Denise
6 years 11 days ago

My worst 20% was an overboard indulgence dinner that, let me just say, was a GREAT reminder of what NOT to do. I drank a martini (ok on it’s own) but didn’t stop there and had a piece of crusty bread (for the first time in forever) and…at a small piece of pizza! UGGG
My stomach hurt for 36 hrs…So my vices now consist of the above mentioned very dark chocolate, red wine and an occasional very dry martini!
cheers!

trackback

[…] are highly encouraged. Primal is about enjoying a healthy life. Here are two blogs by Mark: Sensible Vices and Sensible Vices: Round 2. Chocolate, wine, bacon, naps. […]

trackback

[…] often say that a bowl of thick, creamy Greek-style yogurt mixed with fresh, ripe berries is a good, sensible indulgence dessert option for those that tolerate dairy. As good as it is (especially with some macadamia nuts […]

trackback

[…] often say that a bowl of thick, creamy Greek-style yogurt mixed with fresh, ripe berries is a good, sensible indulgence dessert option for those that tolerate dairy. As good as it is (especially with some macadamia nuts […]

trackback

[…] I usually follow breakfast with a square or two of dark chocolate…goes great w/ my coffee (that I cream with full fat coconut milk and sprinkle with cinnamon). I prefer 90%, but it’s hard to find.  This is my favorite brand though! Chocolate bars are exactly primal, but they are a sensible vice. […]

mtnlady
mtnlady
4 years 7 months ago

What are the approved/OK ways to cook steaks, hamburgers and other meats? Is frying acceptable?
Thanks.

trackback

[…] to all three, and other sensible vices, with the caveat that some things can start us down a slippery slope, and others make us feel so […]

trackback

[…] to all three, and other sensible vices, with the caveat that some things can start us down a slippery slope, and others make us feel so […]

chris in Munich
chris in Munich
4 years 1 month ago

I hear a lot of talk about dark chocolate, which causes me some frustration. The reason is that I like to eat cocoa beans themselves, without any unhealthy sugar (which is still a significant ingredient in the dark chocolate available on the mass market). If more people demanded the beans themselves, they would lose their weird exclusive aura and the price that goes with it.

frank from austria
frank from austria
4 years 1 month ago

I’m totally with you. Even the >80% dark chocolate contains almost exclusively sugar as second ingredient.
I go for the plain cocoa powder instead – that’s at least here in europe available.

Phil
Phil
4 years 1 month ago

I eat à lot of steak but commercial/industrial ones. Is it good? I speak about 1kilo and more à week

trackback

[…] Which brings me to vices. I’m a pretty disciplined guy – okay, very disciplined – but I stop short of attempting perfection. Sure, I suppose I could forever kiss ice cream good bye (yes, Sisson still occasionally indulges). I could angst over those missed workouts when I’m vacationing with my wife and kids. I could work on my flaws and vices. But…why? Read more […]

trackback
4 years 18 days ago

[…] Which brings me to vices. I’m a pretty disciplined guy – okay, very disciplined – but I stop short of attempting perfection. Sure, I suppose I could forever kiss ice cream good bye (yes, Sisson still occasionally indulges). I could angst over those missed workouts when I’m vacationing with my wife and kids. I could work on my flaws and vices. But…why? Read more […]

trackback

[…] Wolf is the father of the NorCal Margarita (thank you Robb, and God bless you), Mark Sisson enjoys red wine, and even the squeaky clean Hartwigs indulged in some wine during a recent trip to wine country (I […]

Caro
Caro
3 years 6 months ago

Red meat isn’t really a vice so much as a staple for me. I’m sticking with it.

trackback

[…] “Sensible Vices” by Mark Sisson, an expert and moderate voice in the paleo/primal […]

trackback

[…] Sensible Vices […]

trackback
2 years 2 months ago

[…] article originally appeared here on Mark’s site, Mark’s Daily […]

trackback

[…] article originally appeared here on Mark’s site, Mark’s Daily […]

Robert Burkhalter
Robert Burkhalter
2 years 2 months ago

the bacon and the grass-fed meat, when you cook them, contain lipid peroxides. Not good no matter what you say. If you’re interested I can reply about how to eat them while avoiding the toxins produced by cooking. But I’ll bet the portfolio (all in) you’re not interested.

trackback

[…] Sensible Vices […]

trackback

[…] Sensible Vices […]

trackback

[…] important to look at the stress in your life so you can get back on track. Mark Sisson talks about sensible indulgences where you experiment with some of the things you have been avoiding. Try something and see how you […]

Savvy
1 year 5 months ago

BEER is made with GRAINS. This is so hypocritical. When I went gluten free, I gave up beer and realized my “beer hangovers” after having just ONE beer were from the wheat. Wheat beers used to be my favorite. I had the same “beer hangover” feeling from having a 1/2 cup of coucous one night. WINE is made from FRUIT. I will totally stick with a periodic glass over wine.

grisly atoms
grisly atoms
10 months 21 days ago

Rum and coconut water – now that is a sensible indulgence. No grains, because rum is made from molasses.

Unfortunately, after going full primal for just a few days I cannot drink my favorite beer without feeling horrible the next day.

trackback
10 months 15 days ago

[…] swoop — coffee, refined sugar, grains, dairy, legumes. The Primal Blueprint allows for “sensible vices” such as dark chocolate and alcohol, which of course I heartily embraced. (In my quest to get […]

wpDiscuz