Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
28 Feb

The Snowball Effect: How Small Changes Can Have a Big Impact

SnowballI don’t think it’s any big secret that the Primal Blueprint flies in the face of conventional wisdom. After all, it’s a different way of eating, moving, and even living to some degree. Beyond the varying specifics like Primal snacks or yellow lensed glasses, however, I think there’s a more amorphous, underlying dimension to the experience. People tell me there’s something about it that changes their vision – how they see everything from marketing ads to cultural traditions, social expectations to personal values.

Adopting (and adapting) the Primal Blueprint involves participating in an alternative choice of sorts, living at least a little bit outside the mainstream routine. Some people relish this element of the experience. Perhaps they already situate themselves on a cultural fringe in some regard and just find the caveman/woman element that much more fun. For others, however, the alternative presents something of a vexation at times, even a stumbling block, particularly if those around them are seated squarely in the conventional realm. Yet, plenty of us make peace (and even find fulfillment) with living slightly on the outskirts of average, intentionally out of everyday touch with some of the central health habits and fads that direct our mainstream culture.

When people first begin toying with the Primal Blueprint, their transition revolves around elements like taste adaptation, menu planning, and exercise revamping. With time, other experiences come into play. They seek out different shopping sources, maybe ordering certain things online, becoming a co-op junkie, or growing some of their own food. They might buy half a cow at a time and start eating organ meat. They may start wearing those weird barefoot shoes (or just skip them altogether). Perhaps they join a different kind of gym or use their current one in a new way. Maybe they drop the gym entirely and work out solely outdoors or put together a CrossFit inspired home gym. They might change where they go out to eat or maybe just don’t eat at restaurants as much anymore. Perhaps over time they cut back their Internet or T.V. at night or spend less time on their phones throughout the day. Oftentimes, they start buying different books or magazines and change what they read online. They may cut some commitments to give them more weekend time outdoors or with family. They move. They switch jobs. They build new social circles. You name, I’ve heard it.

A person goes Primal, and two years later, oftentimes, his or her lifestyle is suddenly more fluid. Her view of work changes. His parenting style shifts. Her social life adjusts. A big time, stressed out suit in the city moves to the country, takes up farming, carries his one-year-old around in a sling, grows a beard and gets himself a Grok tattoo. Sure, that’s a pretty dramatic transformation, but it has happened. A million permutations, a million stories.

I think the key here is context. We accept new choices into our lives and are heartened, even blown away, by the positive changes we experience. Naturally, we want to deepen our commitments, try new aspects of the PB, expand our Primal horizons. To take on the new we inevitably have to give up some of the old. We migrate, perhaps unconsciously, in a new lifestyle direction. What we do with our time, where we spend it, and who we spend it with changes, and the end result often looks less conventional than it did in the beginning. We suddenly realize the personal distance we’ve traversed.

There’s real power in context, of course. As our inner mindsets change, our outer contexts shift and gravitate toward the people, environments, and events that in some way support the life we want to live. Our contexts help us grow into the commitments we make. We organize our schedules around our goals. Why shouldn’t we build our lives around the supports that help us get there, that help us feel good, that help us live well as we define it?

It’s a funny thing, how taking on a countercultural diet – maybe to lose a few pounds, address a chronic condition or gain more energy – can result in deeper changes than we ever anticipated. We start with Primal food or maybe fitness, and with time we end up questioning our participation in other standard practices or our feelings about other common choices. Maybe it’s nothing more than different magazine subscriptions or shoe wear. On the other hand, maybe it’s a major life metamorphosis.

Ultimately, I think it’s part of thriving – to foster congruence in our lives, to have our outer lives align with our inner intentions. It doesn’t mean every friend – or maybe any friend – is Primal. It doesn’t mean we’re raising chickens in our backyard (or would ever want to). It doesn’t mean we all do CrossFit, co-sleep with infants or relish a good liver and onions. The Primal Blueprint, after all, takes the shape of each person’s interest and aim. That said, there’s something to accepting a blueprint that dances along the edge of modern day social norm and the inherent community that this fact builds. It makes for undoubtedly great conversation, the occasional inside joke, and some much valued reflection.

Have you found you’ve shifted your external “contexts” as you’ve lived Primal? Was it a subtle or dramatic shift, an intentional or unconscious adjustment? I hope you’ll share your experiences and perspective on the board. Thanks for reading today, everyone.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Paleo Primal lifestyle is truly a gem in a world full of garbage. I can’t think of any other diet or even fitness practices that would be as beneficial to us. It is true that with the switch to a paleo diet, other changes come in our thought processes and daily practices.

    Anon wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • Kinda harsh. Mark constantly shares info from a wide variety of sources. Take, for example, his Is It Primal series. It nearly always includes things that are not strictly primal but he never calls them garbage.

      I consume ancestral foods whether they come from my Grok ancestors or my great grandparents. I am not Hispanic but I grew up eating Mexican food. It is part of my heritage. I eat organic beans, rice and corn tortillas more than once a week. No intention of giving them up. Don’t call them “garbage” in my presence unless you want to mix it up. Yeah, I know about the primal alternatives such as cauliflower “rice” and I don’t eat them.

      Harry Mossman wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • Do you have a source for organic corn tortillas? Very hard to find…

        Lora wrote on February 28th, 2013
        • There are some good ones at Whole Foods! In the frozen section. I think they’re called ‘Food for Life,’ and they’re sprouted/nixtamalized as well as organic!

          Alyssa wrote on February 28th, 2013
        • Thankfully, they are easy to find here in Sacramento, California. Even the chain grocery stores have them, e.g. Raley’s and Safeway. Haven’t been in Whole Foods for a while. I imagine they have them. Not sure about Trader Joe’s.

          I usually get mine at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. Sacramento is a great place to be primal.

          Harry Mossman wrote on February 28th, 2013
        • I can vouch for the Food for Life sprouted organic corn torillas Alyssa speaks of. I found them at Whole Foods in the freezer section and they are amazing, nice rich corn flavor.

          Jesse wrote on February 28th, 2013
  2. When you realize that this way of life legitimately transcends any mere quasi-effective diet and exercise program it becomes the Holy Grail and thus take on an almost religious significance. Obviously if it floats like a duck it must be a witch!

    Groktimus Primal wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • European or African swallow?

      WildGrok wrote on February 28th, 2013
  3. There’s nothing wrong with being an outlier, you should rejoice in it.

    Sylvia M wrote on February 28th, 2013
  4. I have absolutely shifted my external contexts as I’ve embraced primal living. A few things I view completely differently:

    – Wearing heels – I used to all the time, and rarely do now.

    – Exercise – I would do chronic cardio for hours before (I loved me some Treadclimber!) but now I pick up heavy things and don’t like metcons that last more than 15 minutes. Did I mention I’m in the best shape of my life?

    – Medicine – my view of medicine has 100% changed. I really don’t get sick, but when I do, my goal is to heal my body, not just mitigate symptoms.

    – Band-Aid vs. Root Problem – the biggest shift for me has been my realization (and frustration about) the fact that our modern culture so often “Band-Aids” the problem, rather than attacking the root cause. Modern medicine, diet programs, how eating disorders and chronic diseases are treated, etc. I am constantly thinking “What is the root problem and how could THAT be solved”.

    – I’ve learned that by being a quiet example, you can influence people. You don’t have to impose your personal opinions on them.

    Susie wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • Find and hang with some engineers for root problem solving. David Getoff, VP of the Price Pottenger Nutritional Foundation is a former electrical engineer and is a root cause health problem solver. (Besides, engineers need hot chicks around too).

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • I’m an engineer *and* a hot chick. :-p

        DarcieG wrote on February 28th, 2013
        • [Smoothly]: Why hello. I have derived that I want to be tangent to your curves. :}

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 28th, 2013
        • I don’t think Bon has a mathematical chance in hell for Pi…:)

          Nocona wrote on February 28th, 2013
        • :-) :-) :-)
          Best comment I have seen in a while

          WildGrok wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • Ditto, Susie!! I fully share your comments…

      Daniel wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • Even the heels?

        Colleen wrote on February 28th, 2013
        • Bahaha. Good catch.

          Susie wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • Yay! Another shift – finding a huge community of like-minded people. :)

        Susie wrote on February 28th, 2013
        • +1 to that!! I’ve been in lots of ‘food communities’ before this – primarily vegetarian, raw vegan, and Specific Carbohydrate Diet – and none of them compare to the support, general open-mindedness, and vitality of this ancestral community. Sure, there are some ‘militant’ paleos out there, but there aren’t many on MDA. And there are so many great ancestral blogs that form a network you instantly feel connected to.

          Mark, you’ve really done an excellent job of creating a community through your blog, and out of all the blogs I read, I’ve never come across anything like it. Kudos to you (:

          Alyssa wrote on February 28th, 2013
        • I’ve been eating paleo and living somewhat on the fringe for a long time and I have found myself feeling kind of apologetic/guilty about my “difficult” ways in certain social contexts. Finding this blog and the associated community a few months ago has uplifted me – I’ve renewed my confidence and pride in my choices; I’m feeling good about feeling good. Thanks to everyone!

          Tracy wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • Susie, you said it very well – my journey involved trying to maintain my husband’s health – we became “primal” before we ever heard of it trying to find ways around diet restrictions and still eat food we liked. Now that’s behind us, and we will never go back to SAD. I always question CW.

      Sandra Neary wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • Susie, good point about the heels.

      I’ve actually had women come up to me and say “I’ve heard that heels are actually better for your body, biomechanically.”

      WHAT?! Are you mad!?

      My experience echoes your own with chronic illnesses (I guess because I have a few). When you start thinking about, it our modern lifestyle is one of the worst situations to be living in with a chronic illness.

      Everything from the stress, schedules, diet, sleep, life enjoyment – they’re all waaaaaay outta whack.

      Alexander wrote on March 1st, 2013
  5. Awesome post, i always try and implement one small change a week. It’s amazing how much of a difference they all end up making.

    XDAYS wrote on February 28th, 2013
  6. I’ve also experienced quite a shift, not only with eating and exercise, but in most areas of my life. I don’t feel “stuck” anymore. I now feel confident enough to remove sources of chronic stress in my life, and I spend more time doing things that make me happy.

    I find I don’t get as caught up in material objects anymore, either. I’m not working my life away for a nice car or a “perfect” home. It feels great to focus on the things that really enrich your life.

    Kathleen wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • I totally agree with you, Kathleen! The shift I’ve seen – and getting “unstuck”-has truly snowballed into all areas of my life. I think I’m seeing a shift in the perspectives of other people I encounter, too!

      Ann wrote on February 28th, 2013
  7. I’ve always considered myself to be health-conscious and fit. My definition of both this items has significantly changed. I’m far more self-aware and knowledgeable about food and exercise and what constitutes the definition of ‘healthy’.

    I’m far more sensitive to the fact that most others around me are leading very unhealthy lives and most seem oblivous to it.

    Our obesity and diabetes rate frightens me — what does our future hold if we cannot even look after ourselves.

    I thank Mark and the paleo community, as well as other advocates who contribute to the research and knowledge of healthy living. I believe this pursuit to be life long.

    I hope to influence my children and those that I care about, but I’ve also learned to let go if others are not ready to accept a shift in their thinking/beliefs.


    Louisa wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • +1 Louisa. I saw in today’s news that Olive Garden is going to redo their whole menu and interior…but they said NOT TO WORRY, we won’t do away with the unlimited breadsticks offer! Well isn’t that just dandy!!!

      Nocona wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • +1

      I’ve influenced a few folks but I’ve had to give up on a couple of seriously ill people after a couple of friendly tries of steering them in a different direction. Sad but there’s only so much you can do.

      Pure Hapa wrote on February 28th, 2013
  8. I’m pretty much only MORE suspicious of modern medicine than I was before primal. My exercise has changed a lot. Less cardio, more sprints and lifting. Really makes a difference, slowly but surely.

    Diane wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • Even the regenerative medicine doc I go to is suspicious and cynical about modern medicine! He’s paleo all the way…

      Years of eating wheat (that I am obviously allergic to) is most likely the source of the degenerative arthritis I have in my knees. Going paleo ended my shopping around for the ‘right’ brand of knee replacement device. A little hormonal tweaking from the regen. MD and paleo lifestyle has me feeling at least 10 years younger, and like I might be able to entirely avoid replacing a knee, ever. I’m also avoiding the Type 2 diabetes that runs in my family, so what’s not to like here? Nothing; and paleo food is seriously tasty!

      KitC wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • I can’t even imagine how much wheat I put in my body in my life. My degenerative arthritis also had my doctor suggesting knee replacement at 45. Since going primal I also feel years spryer. Last May on my 50th birthday I finished 1st of all 50+ year old competitors at the Pennsylvania Civilian Military Combine on my own knees. Now my children are following Primal and are going to compete with me at this years Combine. Can’t wait.

        John Mc wrote on March 3rd, 2013
  9. Hmm, what a lovely post, Mark. There are SO many benefits…. where to start and where to end listing them?

    Two immediately came to mind: I got my family “back.” Oh, there were never gone, but my son started MDA, turned me on to it, i started it, my husband then liked what he saw and he started it, now our other son is trying it…and it branched out into my larger family who are also trying it. So the circle widens.

    But perhaps for me the most important thing that has come from this is to discover, after 58 years, that cortisol is my drug of choice. Serious stress all my life. And it DOESN’T have to be that way. The eating of PB has given me so much strength to resist and eliminate a majority of the non-essential stressors in my life. And Mark and all those who are on forums have made that possible. Thank you all very much.

    drjoyous wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • that is a great insight–seeing cortisol as a “drug of choice.” i never thought of it that way, but that’s me, too. cortisol and food. i’m working on choosing life and health instead!

      Jenny wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • +1

        I never thought of it like that, but this applies to me, too.

        Great article, Mark. Thanks for all you do!

        Christina wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • Yes, the hidden addiction!

        My whole family are addicted to its various forms (is a cunning, sneaky beast …). And I was too.

        Now I try to be conscious of all the ways my ego likes to steer me toward it.

        Even this morning I noticed my automatic response to a deliberately provocative SMS message from my mother; fight/flight! And I’m more than 3 years down the line … you need to be constantly ‘here’, ‘now’ to spot the traps.

        Kelda wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • I agree! I just finished going back to school to get my degree, and I start my new job in a couple of weeks. I’ve had the first bit of downtime in the past two years, and I realize I have to stop being so OCD about some things and putting pressure on myself.

      I got it into my head I wanted my $30,000+ of student loans paid off in 3 years or less. Then, the other day, I thought, “You idiot, you’re the only one who puts all this crazy pressure on yourself. Nobody else does it.” That was when I realized that my behavior was going to eventually have adverse health effects. And, really, what’s the point of living a Paleo lifestyle diet and exercise-wise if I’m nuts about everything? It’s rather hypocritical to think that I’m doing everything “right” when that is a huge area I’m definitely not excelling in, an area that could negate some, if not all, of the benefits of the things that I do excel in.

      Anyway, I’ve put myself into recovery and am planning on moving to be closer to my new job so I don’t have to spend so much time in traffic, will pay off my loans early if I can but without the stress of a time limit, etc. Work in progress! I’ve been like this 33 years, it will take some time to relax a little, LOL.

      Jen wrote on February 28th, 2013
  10. I call it jumping down the rabbit hole. Once you’ve seen the truth, you can’t un-see it.

    Meesha wrote on February 28th, 2013
  11. One of my goals for March is to implement the small change of setting a bed time. Working two jobs (one that regularly has me there until 10:00PM with a 30-40 minute commute home) will make this a challenge, but I am looking forward to being more conscious about sleep and how it effects everything else. I’ve been using the Jawbone UP to track my sleep/movement and the results should be interesting.

    Brent wrote on February 28th, 2013
  12. great post! going primal with food started lots of other changes in our family. first, we started eating healthy food, all we wanted, often too much. but being able to make that change, over time, gave us the confidence to be able to make other small changes that have brought us more life. these include simple, quick exercise, primal eating for our kids, self discipline in choosing better attitudes, and now, examining and working on my overeating tendencies. it’s all a journey, and every part of it has been rich and life-giving, with its challenges and gifts.

    Jenny wrote on February 28th, 2013
  13. The biggest change for me is how I perceive food. I watch my spouse (who is not primal) reach for alcohol or icecream, nightly, as a treat to a long stressful day. I realize now how much I used food (restaurants, sugar, alcohol) to relax or fulfill some emotional need.

    In the past year, I’ve completely changed how I cook, cancelled fitness and food mag subscriptions and stopped running on a treadmill in a dark gym in favor of walking in the sun. I’m also significantly stronger, in much less time.

    While I’m not perfect on stress=food, I’ve made more progress in the past year than I’ve made at any other time in my life. I’m more balanced and satisfied and it pays dividends. Restaurants don’t hold my interest the way they used to, b/c my options are limited. But I do so love paleo/primal cooking blogs!

    BootstrapsOnMyFivefingers wrote on February 28th, 2013
  14. I guess I never really realized how much I have changed since becoming Primal. Everything has changed so slowly…slowly changing eating habits, workout routines, schedules, bedtime rituals… all the way up to how I feel about the medical field. I really can’t express the immense hopefulness I get when I realize how all of these new changes have affected my well being and more importantly how EASY it really is to do once you get going. I’ve become much more confident as a person and have found a totally new sense of self. I don’t care what other people think anymore, or if they think my ways of eating are weird or that I’m a hippe ;P. I just smile to myself and feel a little twinge of sadness for society today — but I have no doubt that if people want to learn about this way of life and try it out instead of scoffing, they will gladly jump on the primal bandwagon with all of us — and never look back.

    Lindsay wrote on February 28th, 2013
  15. One of the first unexpected changes I saw since going Primal last February was a greater ability to identify how insidiously deceptive and intentionally misguiding food marketing is. Claims like “fat-free” etc. never used to jump out at me as the sleights of hand that they were until then. And slowly, this new “vision” transferred to other types of marketing. Even well-meaning marketing was exposed. In NYC, we have ads in the subway that encourage folks to “cut down the junk” (showing a drawing of an obese man emptying a bag of potato chips into his mouth). The first thing I think of now when I see that is, you’re not providing an alternative. Your target audience might not know. And also, it ignores the fact that junk food is “engineered” to be eaten quickly, greedily and without thinking – not in small, rational portions (see Mark’s link to that NY Times article in the last weekend link love). So it’s not “don’t eat/cut back on this”, it should be “eat that”. Humans can only avoid evils they like for so long – in the long-term it’s more sustainable to focus on doing something healthy, than focusing on abstaining from something unhealthy. Just one of the many surprise benefits I’ve received from a Primal lifestyle (that, and a 6-pack – sweet!).

    Jey wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • That’s a six pack of muscle and not beer, I hope!

      Nocona wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • Haha – totally. Sometimes both.

        Jey wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • You are so dead on about needing to show people the proper alternatives to junk food. I’m trying to move toward a primal lifestyle–hard when my other half isn’t on board, but we are making little changes every week. I grew up in a household where the simple carbs were present at every meal. We always had white rice, pasta, bread, etc. It was “healthy” because it was low fat (we didn’t eat butter on it!) I college I lived with my older sister. We made easily freezable meals that used boneless-skinless chicken breast and were always served over white rice or pasta (and made with minimal fat–the low fat foolishness). Learning to plan meals without grains has been really hard for me. It’s unlearning 30+ years of cooking low fat (but high carb). Lunches are the hardest because I need something quick and appetizing for the kids and I. We are getting there, very slowly, and I greatly appreciate that Mark and the regulars who comment here don’t seem to have an all-or-nothing Puritanical attitude. It makes the whole concept very approachable (all the awesome information is very helpful too–I have hopes of eventually convincing the hubby even!).

      Beccolina wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • Beccolina, try a Big Ass Salad for lunches, they are awesome. Just type it in the search bar and you will see what it is all about. Keep up the great work and good luck. You will make it.

        Nocona wrote on February 28th, 2013
        • Thanks! I will look (Any hot salads, it’s 20 degrees here!). I am lucky that my parents are supportive. They are starting GAPS in the hopes it will help my dad’s rheumatoid arthritis and my mom’s multiple food sensitivities.

          Beccolina wrote on March 1st, 2013
  16. It started with Good Calories Bad Calories for me, and my obsession with learning everything I can about health and fitness has not stopped since. Through Gary Taubes’ book, I found Marks Daily Apple, and the Primal Blueprint and I will be forever grateful.
    I guess you can say that that these were the first books that really made me question what food I put into my body and that there was a difference between Twinkies and steak….(which is pretty sad that I could go that long and live in that much ignorance). I consider myself reasonably intelligent, so it knocked my world off its axis when I realized that eating fat actually did help me to lose weight…and that pasta made me feel like a blimp. It also humbled me in understanding what little I and most people know in general…and gave me further ambition to truly learn.
    The Primal Blueprint and Good Calories Bad Calories planted a deeper curiosity in my being for truth, and the positive results I have experienced have given me a greater confidence that it can be found in other areas of life too…relationships, economics, etc.
    The most powerful thing I think it has done for me is to make me more aware, and not to rely on assumptions that I had previously thought were fixed in stone. I discovered that there were many things that I had heard all my life…over and over again…that were untrue….and because the lie had been repeated so many times, I had assumed it was the truth. Being free of that is an amazing and empowering feeling.

    primalpal wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • I started with GCBC too. It was another four-five months before I learned about and then really considered eliminating grains (versus reducing amount) and really trying paleo/primal. I was shocked at the huge difference it made, and almost certainly would have thought it quackery had that been my first exposure to this alternative lifestyle.

      Colleen wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • That is exactly my story too, those two books changed the way I viewed everything, forever and you can’t unknow.

      3 years in though and I’ve found myself on a complete outer limb in my family and community, and sometimes that’s lonely and dispiriting.

      Kelda wrote on March 1st, 2013
  17. I chuckled to see how many of the basic shifts my husband and I have made in the past 10 months of eating paleo, but am also amused at how absolutely similar they were to the shifts we made 25 years ago when we got into homeschooling our kids-playing with the elements, shopping sources, changing friendships and where we hang out, job shifts, no tv…. my guess is that these shifts happen any time we make a major life change like this.

    Nancy wrote on February 28th, 2013
  18. WOW!!! Have you been peeking through my windows??? This story describes my new life exactly. Made the change since February 2011 and haven’t looked back. I laugh when family and friends say to me, “Oh, you are still doing that.” They just don’t get it!!

    Lucy wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • My family was a bit skeptical and critical at first.. “What, how can you get rid of a whole food group?!” sorta idea.. but it seems that over the last two+ years I’ve been primal they’re slowly tweaking their diets closer to a primal ideal.. except my mom, who’s been abusive and such, and so I do not maintain any lifeline with her.

      Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  19. Interesting timing for this article. After being Primal for a year+, I’m ordering grass fed meats, just joined a co-op, quit long distance running, amped up my strength training and I’m even considering a transition from a computer engineer to a life coach. Life has never been this fulfilling.

    James wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • If I were you I’d still do some running.. medium distance running maybe? I used to go for the occasional 10km jog, things were easier for me then with a house to live in, no budget, and good shoes.. I haven’t done much cardio since transitioning to street life except some spurts and lots of walking, and I dreadfully miss being able to plug into some running shoes and go for a half hour + jogging journey.

      Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
      • Forget the Dos Equis guy because Animanarchy is my most interesting man in the world.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 2nd, 2013
  20. I began walking outside the mainstream when I started homeschooling my daughters back in 1988. Then, we had a horse with metabolic issues (Cushing’s, IR) in 2000 that led us to feeding no grains (especially wheat-containing), watching the sugar content of hay, barefoot hooves, treeless saddles, and natural horsemanship–all outside the “conventional wisdom” of horse ownership. When my elder daughter introduced me to Mark’s Primal Blueprint three or four years ago, at first I was skeptical, but then took a harder look and saw it incorporated food and exercise ideas that we were already using to have healthier, happier horses. It took another year to come on board with Primal (mainly as a weight-loss program), but the transition wasn’t all that hard. I’ve become accustomed to pursuing my life choices for the past 25 years, and with facts to back it up, it doesn’t matter what people think of them–they’re right for me.

    The unexpected benefit is that Primal means cooking tasty and interesting whole foods, which when raising a family, tends to be seen as a chore rather than a delight, as it is now.

    Rose wrote on February 28th, 2013
  21. It is funny the changes that come from just one shift in your life. My husband and I started eating primal then we started watching where we bought everything. Now it has lead me to be the “Hippie” of the family, we don’t watch TV anymore, we don’t eat out but every once in a while. Even our financial goals have switched, our budget has been taken over by buying good foods, finding fun and interesting way to spend our time and both of us going back to school (sadly we both still work because we cant afford our new life without our day jobs).

    amycann wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • Walking by outside, sometimes I glance at people through their windows who are watching TV, and get an idea that they’re docilely receiving mental manipulation. I watch TV on occasion but am picky about it.

      Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  22. This is a great relaxing, chill post. NOt sure why i’m qualifying it that way but that is the feeling I got from it. I think sometimes reading too much (forums especially) abuot primal gets your further away from it. WHen I started in November I devoured information. THen I was going to vacation in Feb so wanted to see if I could lose weight for that trip (even though I am perfectly healthy weight). Now I feel like i’ve calmed down a bit.

    I just feel like I get it now. And i can let go of asking questions and tune more into myself. THis post was a really nice wrap up for me.

    melissa wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • Melissa, I got that vibe from it too, which I thoroughly enjoyed (: I think I get what you’re saying – it’s easy to get caught up in the details of every morsel of food that goes in your mouth by reading too much (although that level of attention IS necessary for some people with health issues!), and this post reminds us all to just relax into the change.

      Alyssa wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • Don’t be stressin, Sisson ain’t too strict! (check out the older posts in the archives)

        Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  23. Malcolm Gladwell puts it best in his book, The Tipping Point. One small change in your lifestyle can alter the course of your life from negative to positive.

    Hassan wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • I agree! My journey has been a number of small changes along the way to refine my health; week by week. My food choices were pretty good until I found paleo/primal, I just needed a few more tweaks to improve my health even further. The key changes for me have been the lifestyle changes; relax more, have fun, play! This has been the primal difference in my journey!

      Madeleine wrote on February 28th, 2013
  24. I have read this post and scanned down through the comments. One thing that I really like about all posts is see on MDA is that they come with a dose of humility. Far too many lifestyle or nutrition sites are laden with judgemental and hurtful comments about what someone else is doing. It’s nice to come here and see such a positive supportive community that congratulates people on what works for them—even if it does not fit the approach of others. Keep up the good work folks!

    Adam wrote on February 28th, 2013
  25. I no longer let chronic cardio rule my life. Therefore more time and energy for family relationships and better outlook about food and consumption.

    Molly wrote on February 28th, 2013
  26. Mark, that was truly a great post. I am so happy to know that someone is making a positive impact on this world. I can feel your passion and commitment to what you do and I respect you for going for it.

    Ainslie Ireland wrote on February 28th, 2013
  27. I’m sure others have shared this sentiment, but I think the biggest aspect of primal life for me has been how I feel emotionally after cutting the shit out of my diet. And now I’m really proud to rep my liver-loving, no shit, non-toxic life.

    Dani wrote on February 28th, 2013
  28. Thanks Mark. It is nourishing to read this perspective on the lifestyle’s flexibility and adaptability. I personally feel that so many areas of my new lifestyle are finally aligning with my barefoot tendencies! Maybe there was a little Grok in me all along!

    Leanna wrote on February 28th, 2013
  29. Great post!

    Just because the majority does something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. Follow your gut, question everything, don’t be afraid to buck the system.

    Helga wrote on February 28th, 2013
  30. The healthiest, happiest, most at peace I have ever been. I find it funny that while others project their angst on me I don’t claim it. It is theirs and theirs alone. I almost laughed out loud when when my sister said I was more “high-strung” than usual. It was the first time that I realized that she equates high energy with high-strung.

    Robyn wrote on February 28th, 2013
  31. love this!

    it my not be a perfectly linear movement, but month to month, year to year, i get a little more primal and a little more happy.

    meowlex wrote on February 28th, 2013
  32. I have definitely shifted. I see things in such a different light. Many times I felt guilt for being so “blind”, especially as I raise my 3 almost grown daughters but I am learning to accept it as part of my journey. Share what I learn – but most importantly act as an example of a healthier, happier mom and to the fabulous friends and family I am blessed to share my life with.

    Jill wrote on February 28th, 2013
  33. Mark I love your blog, it has been very helpful. My family and I recently made the transition to a more primal life style (baby dino steps for sure) We have 5 young children and we have found not only do we some how save money on food, but in the last 8 weeks we have seen some awesome changes – So much so my parents and Sister are both taking their families on the same adventure. (and it is an adventure to new parks, and farms and markets) Our Family is adapting well including our kids who are loving the extra family time (who ever thought you could get your three year old twins to peel carrots but they love to)

    Haley wrote on February 28th, 2013
  34. Fantastic post today Mark! Thank you for this! My husband and I have always lived on the fringe in many respects, but going Primal over a year ago really elevated our perspective to a whole new level. I can’t thank you enough for that Mark. Beyond the radical diet shift. Beyond wearing minimalist shoes, creating stand-up desks and doing more slow consistent movement (all things we both do) it’s the mindset: it’s about truly caring about where our food comes from and how it came to us. Caring about the animals and land we depend on. This to me is how I know we have truly embraced this lifestyle.

    mars wrote on February 28th, 2013
  35. Interesting timing on this post. I am sitting here finishing lunch (big salad) at my last day of work after being laid off from my job. Top of mind since I found out is whether this is my opportunity to make a significant change in my life.

    I moved to my present city by myself(Vancouver BC)for this job nearly three years ago, away from extended family in Ontario but have not been loving it. I had been thinking lately that in a couple years I could start to consider semi-retirement if I moved back to Ontario where cost of living is lower. Maybe a small house in the country with a big vegie garden.

    I only just discovered MDA towards the end of 2012 and have been trying Primal out since the start of this year so I consider myself to still be in the experimental phase but so far so good.

    I am turning 50 in just over a month and now have a couple of months to decide if I stay at the grind for a few more years or take a bit of a risk and try something different. Lots to think about.

    Joanne wrote on February 28th, 2013
    • I went on two vacations to BC, made good primal use of those times. The “Grouse Grind” is a great trail!

      Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  36. This rings so true for me. No stranger to the outskirts of society (artist, underground music, underground dance, etc)…and still I find this to be very revolutionary at times when I see how others around me live and eat day to day. I try to find a voice in sharing it with others that is somewhat like Mark’s (encouraging, excited, factual and non-exclusive) so that I don’t get the eye-roll effect and hopefully get some people interested. This has absolutely changed my life in almost all of the ways mentioned above.

    Suzanne wrote on February 28th, 2013
  37. This was a very enlightening article to read.

    Arc Point Labs Kc wrote on February 28th, 2013

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