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

Trusting Authorities (or Not) Based on Appearance

Personal TrainerRegina Benjamin, the United States’ 18th Surgeon General, is markedly overweight. She’s a highly trained physician who famously set up a medical clinic for Alabama’s poor hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina, and she’s unquestionably knowledgeable and experienced, but she’s also overweight. Does this negatively impact her role as the public face of health? Does her weight detract from the message?

Or take countless nutrition experts that fit the mold of the dietitian featured in this video? She’s educated, has dozens of books on nutrition and healthy cooking under her belt and, at least on paper, looks like an authority of sorts. But her physique (saying nothing of her healthy eating tips) doesn’t exactly instill confidence in her recommendations (as readers noted in the forum).

On the other hand what about someone like Jillian Michaels? Strong shoulders. Check. Trim waistline and ripped abs. Check and check. She must be doing things right? Right?

I’m sure you see what I’m getting at. Does the physical appearance of a fitness or nutrition authority affect the worthiness of the message? Do we discount weight loss advice from an obese expert who can’t take her own advice – or that takes her own advice a bit too well (in the case of Dr. Benjamin)? Do we listen, enraptured, to the opinions of a random gym rat just because he’s got massive guns? What about the lanky older dude with a Crossfit total of 1,000 pounds?

The natural reaction is to balk at the overweight nutrition teacher or the flabby fitness guru, and accept as gospel the recommendations of musclebound meatheads. And why wouldn’t it? If they practice what they preach and practice equals results they should look the part. But are we missing out on some great stuff by ignoring physically unimpressive people? On the same token, are we making false prophets out of people who are just genetically blessed statistical outliers?


“Oh, I dunno. I pretty much eat whatever I want.” How often have we heard that from chiseled, elite athletes? Lamar Odom eats pounds of candy each day, sports sub-10% body fat, and is fast, tall, and powerful – does that mean you can do it and make the NBA, too? Michael Phelps eats upwards of 10,000 calories a day, most of it from refined carbohydrates and industrial, processed fats (he’s not sprouting his grains or whipping up his own mayo, folks), yet he retains a lean swimmer’s body and several world records. Neither Odom nor Phelps are telling us what to eat or how to exercise, but plenty of people point to them as evidence that nutrition doesn’t matter. Plenty of bodybuilders lift weights seven days a week for several hours each day without showing signs of overtraining. Try lifting heavy for hours each day without accelerating your anabolic hormonal response to superhuman proportions. Should Joe the middle manager with a pot belly be taking lifting advice from Ronnie Coleman? Of course not. These guys are statistical outliers; they’re the exception to the rule. Their success is often in spite of their training or diet (what if Odom and Phelps ate nothing but real food?). And in some cases, their success is amplified by chemical assistance or steroid use. And yet these are the people whose advice is trusted and sold to unsuspecting consumers looking to get in shape.

Big muscles make fitness magazine covers and sell supplements and lend credence, but that’s it. Statistical outliers don’t make the argument – for or against a particular training or eating program. We see them try, though, all the time. I can’t really blame them. I do the same. A bodybuilder’s physique makes for great marketing, and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that my fitness levels and appearance make the Primal Blueprint more believable and easier to digest. I’ll also say that because I’m trying to reach the most people possible, it’s crucial that I maintain strong personal fitness; the knee-jerk reaction to a trainer’s appearance is a universal truth that we all must acknowledge, especially those of us who are trying to make a difference in people’s lives.

What you, as digesters of dietary and fitness advice, should focus on is what the science says, what works for the most people, and, most importantly, what works for you. If a massively ripped dude is giving out advice, citing actual evidence, and people of all stripes who take that advice are getting stronger, fitter, and faster, then there’s probably something to it. A scrawny old guy with the same support and the same results? You gotta listen to him, too. Fitness and nutrition coaches who can point to hordes of successful trainees and supportive science deserve a listen, even if their personal appearance leaves something to be desired.

I’ve witnessed people discount or dismiss folks like Greg Glassman’s (of CrossFit) or Mark Rippetoe’s (of Starting Strength) training advice simply because they don’t “look the part.” They don’t have a six-pack, they may have a bit of a belly, or they may even be totally out of the game (injuries largely prevent Glassman, a former gymnast, from working out). They may not even practice what they preach (watch Rip squat and deadlift, for you doubters) as much as they once did. They may even be outlifted and outperformed by some random lunkhead at your local globo-gym flexing in the mirror or commenting on YouTube videos – but who should you take advice from? Glassman has presided over an entire fitness movement that produces scores upon scores of strong, fast, powerful, well-balanced athletes. Rip is recognized as perhaps the premier barbell coach in the game. You want to learn how to squat and deadlift, you read his stuff. Yet, your average untrained person would be more than a bit skeptical if either one tried to school them on fitness matters, simply because of their appearance. A coach is a coach. You don’t see people rag on overweight football or swim coaches for not physically measuring up to their players. Basketball coaches are often as diminutive as they come, and they’re still successful. Knowledge is knowledge, whether it’s knowledge of sport, fitness, or nutrition.

If what a health expert is proposing and living has any merit whatsoever, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for them to at least approach the results they’re touting. But we have to keep in mind the complexities of physical fitness, statistical outliers, and other external factors. As for me, I attribute in large part my health, fitness, and physique to the Primal Blueprint. When I backed way off training I was concerned my body composition would suffer, but with the PB I’ve been able to maintain virtually the same body fat percentage while putting muscle on. That said, it would disingenuous to overlook the years of antithetical lifestyle behaviors I practiced previously. I did just about everything wrong – Chronic Cardio, endless grain and refined carb consumption, almost no weight training – and I looked pretty fit and healthy. I wasn’t, of course, but there are probably underlying genetic factors in my favor preventing obesity – no matter how many grains or sugars I eat. At the same time, you can look to the MDA forums and our many success stories to get a sense that the PB isn’t just for the genetically blessed or the elite; it works pretty well for just about everyone who gives it a fair shot. It better work, seeing as how it’s based on human evolutionary biology!

All the variables that determine one’s appearance and fitness levels – genetics, training history, supplementation, training frequency, training intensity, methodology – make deciding who to trust incredibly confusing. At the end of it all, though, you’ve got to follow the science and the results objectively and rationally, because that human instinctual tendency to dole out or withhold trust based on appearance is always going to be a factor. We’re always going to react to appearance, but we should never base our ultimate appraisal on appearance alone.

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. I am a bit torn on this one. While I am not a slim jim by any standard, I do consider myself to be quite healthy (especially since going Primal). My body fat ranges around the 18% mark and I am thick but I am also as strong as an ox and can run 10K in less than an hour.

    Does it matter if you are “unconventinal” in your weight? I think if you are “unfit” that is the issue. Being a skinny, scrawny person with little or no muscular physique is just as “wrong” as carrying too much of the chub.

    A fit person is one who practices fitness, good nutrition and wellness. If you don’t do all of these, you are NOT fit to tell anyone what to do. If you do practice these aspects of life, you shouldn’t be obese or “skinny fat”.

    Mike Cheliak wrote on February 16th, 2010
  2. I think part of the issue is assuming that some who is physically strong is automatically healthy. Athletes are burning more calories, but they are also using up more nutrients.

    The way I see it many elite athletes only take care of their increased caloric needs.

    Could this be part of the story behind athletes dropping dead of aneurysms or heart failure. It happens more often than one would think.

    I competed at a high level for years playing soccer. I ate better than most, but I know I didn’t eat as well as I do now. And I wonder how much better I could have been had I fueled my body appropriately.

    I abused the fact that I had a fast metabolism and athletic build. In fact I had trouble putting on weight of any kind until going primal.

    When I was in college and started putting worse I actually lost weight (Muscle) and only gained slight padding.

    I don’t mean this statements in any kind of bragging way to those who have more difficulty with weight. The point is that my body led me to assume that I was healthier than I probably was.

    Seth wrote on February 16th, 2010
  3. As a PT, I think it is important to ‘walk the talk’… which is slightly different from ‘looking the part’ (though presumably if one ‘walks the talk’ with something that holds ture, then they should come close to also ‘looking the part’).

    When judging ones appearance, it is easy to get caught up in whether someone has big guns, a narrow waist, etc. But there are other physical aspects that I think are more telling. I generally look at a persons posture, how they hold themselves, etc. I watch their movements. They might proclaim to be into their strength work, but if I see their knee fold in each time they take a step, I can see that they have weak hips & that doesn’t add up with what they are telling me. I look at skin condition, at their eyes, etc. There are all sorts of cues that allow you to see health beyond just big arms & ripped abs.

    To be honest, if I hadn’t have seen the photo’s of Mark & his wife Carrie & proclaimed ‘whoa!’, I don’t think I would have climbed onboard the PB as quickly as I did. Of course, everything Mark says has to stack up from a scientific perspective… I’ve invested too much in my own academic credentials & have stuck my neck out career-wise by turning my back on CW (I’m a university trained nutritionist & exercise physiologist), to take a risk on the ‘ramblings of a Malibu Ken-doll’. Clearly Mark & the whole Primal/Paleo community do stack up. But it was his appearance AS WELL AS what he was saying that sold it to me.

    Jamie wrote on February 16th, 2010
    • Jamie, I think your point about health being outside of arm measurements and chest width is true. For example, most bodybuilders have horrible skin from all the excessive, low quality supplements and tupperware eating (no break for your system from constant feeding). Yet, people might think about them as healthy.

      Kishore wrote on February 16th, 2010
  4. I consider the PB a lifestyle and health plan, and not a weight-loss plan, which is the reason I can look to Mark and others like him as role models. But when I really start thinking about weight loss (a goal of mine right now), I have a hard time full trusting anyone who hasn’t been there themselves.

    Tom Naughton just posted a video on his Fat Head blog wherein the thin Meme Rogers rages against obesity and how irresponsible fat people are. (link: He makes the astute observation that “She was born on the finish line and thinks she won a race.” Andrew Weil made a similar comment on Larry King Live to Mehmet Oz about his authority in dispensing diet advice as a naturally thin person.

    Many people who are overweight think they were just stuck with a bad hand of genetic cards, and I don’t blame them for not trusting people who have always been thin. They want to be able to relate their own lives to the success of others. That’s why people like The Biggest Loser so much, right? There’s much more emotional salience there for them. I can’t wait for the day that I hit my goal weight and can be one of those role models for people. (And a primal one at that!)

    lesliek wrote on February 16th, 2010
    • Good for you! People will listen to you …you will *know* things that cannot be learned through books or courses but only the trial by fire!
      Best wishes on your journey and role in helping others do the same.

      Gina wrote on February 19th, 2010
  5. This is idealistic bullshit. 99.999% of anyone at this site wouldn’t listen to a word Sisson said if he didn’t look the way he did….including me

    Samson wrote on February 16th, 2010
    • lol… trashing “idealism” with the use of the 99.999% trick. If you’re going to say that you’re not an idealist, at least have the courage to use 100%.

      Grant wrote on February 16th, 2010
      • There are at least a few people out there that would take anyone’s advise. 100% would be way too bold of a claim. 😉

        Samson wrote on February 16th, 2010
        • So an idealist (aka: .0001% of the pop) is someone who’d take anyone’s advice? If so, doesn’t that necessarily mean that he has no ideas of his own? How, exactly, is he an ideals then?

          Grant wrote on February 16th, 2010
        • I’m saying it’s idealist to tell people not to judge the messenger, and to only judge the message…especially when it comes to health and fitness.

          Samson wrote on February 16th, 2010
  6. I can see both sides to the issue here and can’t help but think of boxing managers. Many are past their prime but have plenty of experience to share. I wouldn’t discount them. Look at Kung Fu Panda also!!

    At the same time there is credibility gained when you look the part of that which you preach.
    At the end of the day it’s relative to age, experience, and effort. That’s my two cents.

    Good thoughts for us all to ponder Mark.

    jpickett1968 wrote on February 16th, 2010
  7. The older the health guru, the more seriously I take the advice.

    JD wrote on February 16th, 2010
  8. If I were a fat dietitian I would really question my own credibility and lose confidence I’m sure. I

    Paneristi wrote on February 16th, 2010
  9. I hear you Mark, and I agree that we can’t ignore sound advice simply because we don’t like the source. I just think that in this fast paced, information age, we’re so inundated with so many bits of info on a regular basis, it’s hard to find the time to weed out what advice is the most sound. Not having the time means we have to rely on split second signals as to wether or not a fitness pundit is a sage or a sucker, and looking the part is going to be one of those indicators. I don’t know, Maybe we should just slow down enough in our lives to do the proper research. Very thought provoking article.

    Michael Ezell wrote on February 16th, 2010
  10. This is a no-brainer IMO. If you were a pot-bellied guy giving advise on primal ways, it wouldn’t have reached anywhere. It is a different thing with a basketball or a football coach – what I would look in their resume is whether they have played the game in their prime years, not whether they can still play the game.

    Jayadeep Purushothaman wrote on February 16th, 2010
  11. I think that’s a preposturous idea. Should the greatest fashion designer I’ve ever seen be decked out from head to toe? No. He shows up wearing a t-shirt and jeans, that doesn’t mean he’s any less brilliant. Most people who do things for their living are a mess with doing it for themselves. “That’s work,” they say.

    But in the case of dieticians and the like, sure they could know all the right advice and methods and still be fat. Look at me. I’ve read GCBC, been primal for nearly a year, devoured the WAPF sites and I’m still fat.

    paleo_piper wrote on February 16th, 2010
  12. The ideas in this post are interesting but there’s something bugging me about the logic.

    A doctor or nutritionist giving advice to the masses on daily lifestyle changes does not equate to a basketball or swimming coach giving advice to elite athletes.

    In the first case, the advice and guidance is about necessary changes that are supposedly accessible to the masses to make them healthy and fit. They are marketing it as very doable and delivers results for everyone if followed. This is why people are appalled when they see the person giving the advice seriously overweight. If it is so easy and doable, then where did you go wrong?

    In the second case, the advice is for a small group of people and is not at all necessary for everyone, only for people who are earning a living off their looks/fitness/sport talent… That’s why we’re ok with an NBA coach who’s not fit. No one expects him to put all that effort because when it comes down to it, it is not necessary.

    What I’m trying to say is we (most people at least) see being of healthy weight and decent built as the minimum we should strive for. We’d be bothered by someone who can’t even achieve the minimum.

    Being ripped or built like an athlete is far above the minimum, it is not necessary or average. We won’t be too bothered with someone who knows how to get there but does not see to want to get there.

    HKay wrote on February 17th, 2010
  13. Today most people are excited by skinny looks. It´s also a common thinking of being obese=sick. As a matter of fact longevity comes in most cases with little overweight. Anorectic dieter with strict training schedules loose not only their weight but also important health issues like bone mass and brain cells – ireversible. We should focus an overall health and wellbeing and not a fake look. But therefore one needs balance and self-awareness. Rare traits.

    Tamara wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • actually you don’t lose brain cells from starvation (unless you kill them with actual toxins and anyone can do that)

      They did studies a while ago on some people who died of fasting and starvation and found all the proteins in their nervous systems, gonads and bones were intact (about 4.5 kg of protein total). They had an average BMI of 13.1 to 14.1 and the very few fat cells they had left were filled with something the researcher called “granules” instead of fat. I assume they were just filled with junk/filler until they could be filled with fat again and begin multiplying…

      As a former skinny person turned fat, now turning normal weight I can tell you most health messages didn’t target me at all, I acted like I was indestructible and ate a ton of garbage. This is really not good especially for skinny-fats who are at risk for insulin resistance/T2 diabetes (which is even more dangerous for them)/metabolic syndrome/heart disease without even knowing. Not to mention they have poor muscular strenght to support their bodies and no caloric/protein reserves to speak of if they get sick

      mm wrote on August 4th, 2010
  14. I recall reading somewhere that skinny men who don’t exercise have twice the mortality risk as overweight men who do exercise. Bruce Lee is someone I would have taken health advice from (before he died at 32)

    I love mark’s final statement here: ‘We’re always going to react to appearance, but we should never base our ultimate appraisal on appearance alone.’ The river may carry water to you without drinking any itself. I think inevitably we’re influenced by appearances but always need to look deeper. Perceived authority is a powerful behavioural influence (think Stanley Milgram)-unfortunately we can make assumptions as to what is authoritative by allowing externals to unduly sway us. A white coat here, a governmental approval stamp there; and we stop looking deeper.

    Thanks Mark great post.

    Mark Tyrrell wrote on February 17th, 2010
  15. Wow – what a discussion we have here! Super post Mark!!

    I agree with the majority here and I personally can only trust those who practice what they preach. For me that shows true belief and our bodies (inside or out) do reflect our lifestyles. In many cases, the skinny guy who eats junk will suffer for it evenutally. Sometimes you get the chain smoker who lives to 100 but why take the risk when the evidence is so strong? It’s just the way the media works – anomalies sell better! So I believe in the healthy lifestyle I follow!

    I’m currently in marathon training and met with British marathon champion Liz Yelling and Lucozade Sports nutritionalists last week at an Adidas event. It forced me to come to come to terms with the fact that I have to change my diet for endurance (and you have already addressed this Mark in ‘Primal compromises for endurance Athletes’). I have to admit that Primal nutrition will remain my bedrock because I am not an endurance athlete full time but whilst I am running silly distances on a weekly basis, for now I am not going to cry about eating sugar and fast digesting carbs. I admit it – these help me perform better! Rest asssured that once the marathon has passed, I wont strain my body with these sports foods unless absolutely necessary.

    Luke M-Davies wrote on February 17th, 2010
  16. It’s just a simple case of ‘do what I say, not what I do’ at times…

    Brandon wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Good Lord, we have “aunt Jemima” as Surgeon General. Combined with the rest of the White House, our kids are screwed. Give me back my Amish lookin C. Everett Koop!

      Chris wrote on February 17th, 2010
      • You disgust me.

        Angie wrote on February 17th, 2010
      • Hey Chris, you probably don’t realize this, but nowadays the term “Aunt Jemima” is actually be quite offensive.

        Amy wrote on February 17th, 2010
        • Sorry, but I am not taking any racist bullshit. She is a fat, black woman, in a public position promoting “health”. My comment was not racist. Take it up the syrup company.

          Chris wrote on February 17th, 2010
      • Hey Chris, this post is for grown ups only. We’re trying to have a genuine conversation here. You’re just being distracting.

        Mike Ezell wrote on February 17th, 2010
        • The fact that you used black in your descpription makes it racist i.e. based on her race. Maye think things through a bit more before posting.

          Kyle wrote on February 17th, 2010
        • Wow! You are right, that is not (just)”rasist bullshit”. This is clearly rasism in full bloom.

          Dania wrote on February 17th, 2010
  17. I take advice from people who have done what I want to do and look how I want to look, but that’s just me. That’s the reason I put a before and after pic on my blog so that people know that I’m not just blowing smoke. I’ve been fat, unfit, and unhealthy but I’m not now and people want to follow other’s advice who have walked the path that they want to walk with an outcome that is highly desirable. It always cracks me up when people give out advice about this or that, yet don’t follow their own advice or pay their own price.

    Sterling wrote on February 17th, 2010
  18. Leaving coaches and trainers aside as they may have different goals or physical aspirations, lets focus on health care professionals such as dietitians, PCPs, and non-surgical specialitists (I don’t care what a brain surgeon looks like if he has great hands). We and they should have the same goal, a state of health and absense of disease. The physical apperance of the health care professional speaks volumes to their knowledge of nutrition and how it relates to disease. If they have a disease of civilization (way more than just obesity, too many to list)and are not actively working towards change, then they have not been enlightened to the intimate relationship of food, lifestyle, and well-being. Therefore they can not enlighten me. I will be destined to fall victim to their advice as they have. Why would someone with excellent dietary and lifestyle advice that they KNOW works withhold it from themselves? Getting big biceps is not everyones thing, but being free of disease and promoing well being should be (particularly in health care) and apperance can tell you a lot about who “gets it” and who doesn’t.

    Pharm wrote on February 17th, 2010
  19. I personally am more inclined to trust someone who walks their talk. Mainly because I just can’t fathom knowing all of the things I know now about nutrition and exercise, and NOT wanting to put it into practice!! It just doesn’t make sense to me!
    I saw someone mentioned that they would have a hard time taking fitness advice from someone who had never struggled with thier weight. This is a bit of a tough spot for me–I’ve never really been technically “overweight” in my life. I was one of those skinny kids who could (and did) eat whatever they wanted, as much as they wanted. It started catching up to me in college, when my junk food consumption went up and my physical activity went way down, but the worst it got was basically me not feeling comfortable with my weight, but other people still saying “you’re too skinny!” So now whenever I am trying to help someone who is overweight, I tend to get the “you just don’t know how it is, you were always thin!” Which is frustrating to me, because I wish it didn’t matter, but I can kinda see how it does make a difference.

    Ika wrote on February 17th, 2010
  20. Oddly enough, I addressed something similar to this on a website that my friend and I are trying to start.

    I had to laugh one day as a skinny friend started telling me all about the things he’d learned about insulin. Fat people know this stuff because they’ve been reading about it for years.

    I see no problem with taking advice from a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of person. I’ve been in work situations where I’ve had to tell people, “Never do what you’re about to see me doing. It’s dangerous and stupid.” Then put myself in harm’s way.

    Let’s put it this way, if two people are telling me how to get out of a burning building, I’m going to listen to the one with the burn scars at least as hard as the one without.

    Allbeef Patty wrote on February 17th, 2010
  21. Freakish genetics aside there is something to “proof of concept”. The fact that we have a fat Surgoen General at a time when the administration is pushing for better eatting in our kids is sure sign that the gov. cannot help them. They cannot help themselves. You wouldn’t hire a shrink for marriage help if they are a two time devorce statis. You wouldn’t hire a money manager knee deep in debt driving a rusted out shitbox. We shouldn’t listen to our government when they push around a wheelbarrow full of potatos(sugar) saying this is how to lose weight and be healthy.

    Chris wrote on February 17th, 2010
  22. What a great discussion! Thought provoking post Mark. The first time I stopped by your site I definitely noticed the physical shape you were in and especially for your age(that’s a compliment-we’re about in the same age group!) ..that attracted me to reading what you had to say. I tend to agree with your statements at the end of the post about the science. My husband is 6’4″ pure muscle always has been no matter what he eats or much as that makes me want to sometimes slap him(j/k) I also realize it’s genetics. So I’ll stick to sound science with a good dose of observation.

    Joyce Cherrier wrote on February 17th, 2010
  23. Mark,

    Thank goodness, and I’m secure in my own masculinity to say this!, that a guy like you is out there who’s easy on the eyes AND/YET humble enough to tell people that you’re not afraid in this life to learn and change your opinion (e.g., your marathon days to primal living). You set a great example for changing one’s lifestyle for the better. And for the reasons that you mention above, based on science and the feedback you received. In my opinion, your humility allows for your wisdom to be that much more credible, and the chances of a primal blueprint to be accepted that much more likely by people who are struggling with all of the mixed health messages out there.

    Great message in this post.

    Zach wrote on February 17th, 2010
  24. To me, a good health and fitness regime has to fulfill three criteria:

    1) It has to work, and by work, show on your physique (I don’t mean some kind of beefed up mental body, just low body fat and good muscle tone).

    2) It has to work, and be HEALTHY. Not CW healthy, but the kind of healthy that results in such an unparalleled sense of wellbeing – energy, vitality, happiness – that you can’t bear to lose that feeling.

    3) It has to work, be healthy, and be achievable in your lifestyle within today’s modern world. It is no good telling me to get 5 hours of sun based exercise when I have to be at my desk for a while.

    Fat / unhealthy people with a lifestyle approach will never sell it to me. Because, it must come down to the fact that either:

    1)It doesn’t work.
    2)It works, but doesn’t make you feel all-around great enough to bother to stick with.
    3)It works, makes you feel great, but is too difficult to follow.

    I don’t want any of those options.

    The PB lifestyle however:

    1) WORKS (and boy does it work, people do double takes at my physique)
    2) Motivates me to keep at it because I have boundless energy, hardly ever get sick, and literally glow with health
    3)Fits into my lifestyle – I can eat out, hold down my job, maintain a social life and have ‘sensible vices’. Sticking to PB means keeping yourself happy, which means (to me) red wine a couple of times a week and the odd bit of dark chocolate (the only thing i can’t give up is tofu – I just LOVE it too much…).

    So no, I will never be swayed by someone whose body I don’t aspire to, because they don’t have a holistic, achievable plan.

    Just my 2c.


    Lekki Wood wrote on February 17th, 2010
  25. anyone in the health industry should portray a healthy image along with their advice or else they are just hypocrites in my opinion.

    carly wrote on February 17th, 2010
  26. Funny, I was just searching a few days ago for a yoga instructor because I’m not at all comfortable taking diet/health/fitness advice from the one (yes, one…it’s a small town) local yoga instructor who is overweight. Call me crazy…

    Jessica wrote on February 17th, 2010
  27. At age 68, I’m continuing to explore fitness and nutrition. Purchased Primal Blueprint and Primal Body, Primal Mind recently. Halfway through Mark’s book and finding it helpful. Three weeks into an 80% Primal effort nutritionally and physically. It’s been a very positive exploration so far. Interesting for me as my fitness efforts date back 50 years……physical education minor in college, college athlete, nine marathons, basketball into my 50’s, and still playing competitive carry the bag golf. I was often in the chronic fatigue arena during my working and parenting years. WHAT I PARTICULARLY LIKE ABOUT THE PRIMAL BLUEPRINT IS THE UNSPOKEN PURSUIT OF LiFE BALANCE through reasonable, focused exercise and dramatic but simple changes in diet. No question, after one month I’m feeling and seeing the difference.

    Have also been exploring CrossFit for the last 2+ years, and like the synergies of Primal and CrossFit. It was a CrossFit305 (Miami) owner who had a copy of Primal Blueprint who suggested it to me.

    I have a nine year old grandson who consumes bad stuff every day. MOST of his diet is bad stuff. Significant sugar highs and lows. Runs around the house like crazy for 30+ minutes in the evening and then has a rough time getting to sleep. Craves sugar, and strongly balks at eating good food put in front of him. I’m in the middle of a six week visit his family right now. It’s hard to watch him make poor diet decisions. We spend about an hour a day together at an athletic field messing around with a soccer ball and kicking field goals with a football. He’s good. Very strong kicker. He kicks 50-60 field goal attempts each day and regularly nails them through the uprights on a high school football field from 25+ yards. It’s internally frustrating to me to see him willing to work hard at kicking endeavors, then to go home, eat crap, and melt down 30 minutes later. I can tell he’s confused and upset with himself, but his antics indicate he doesn’t know how to act or behave appropriately. SURE WOULD LIKE SOME SUGGESTIONS FROM PRIMAL PARENTS WHO HAVE WORKED THROUGH STUFF LIKE THIS WITH THEIR KIDS OR GRANDKIDS.

    Wisconsin Tom wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Wisc Tom,

      Perhaps you ought to post this again, as a separate stand alone query. It’s so far down in the replies, I think it might be a bit lost. That I can see, nobody has yet replied & surely there are Primal relatives & parents here dealing/dealt w/ this concern of yours.

      Betorq wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Dear Jessica,
      I was reading the comments and I saw yours. I can understand your frustration and admire your dedication to helping your grandson without trying to impose your opinion too much. My oldest(she is 10) has similiar tendencies to your grandson. If she eats foods with a lot of sugar, colors she goes as I call it “to the moon.” However, it is a lot better now as I don’t let her imbibe too much on those foods. I think his parents need to learn to say “NO!” to those foods and “YES!” to other healthier options. In the evening only water with meals, a nice balanced dinner with good balance of protein, fats and carbohydrate. Maybe a 5-10 minute walk outside after dinner too. I don’t agree with parents allowing their kids to have whatever they want, especially a child like your grandchild who needs less sugars, colors and simple carbohydrates in their diet. By being strict it will only help him out in the long run. Good Luck, Mary Brighton

      Mary Brighton, MS, RD wrote on February 19th, 2010
  28. Great Post Mark!

    Most of my clients look way more fit and toned than I do…and each one suffers from years of eating disorders. I help them regain their lives beyond their body image.

    You cannot judge a book by its cover, and we are much more complex than our outer appearance…even the surgeon General. Even if she were sporting a size 2 she could be spouting bad info.

    Would you believe her more if she were a size 2…come on!

    Gina wrote on February 17th, 2010
  29. Elaine Magee’s dietary advice sucks. Fat or thin she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

    I can distinguish between good or bad dietary advice but the majority is clueless so they will go by the look of the person giving the advice.

    Knowing the right thing to do dietary-wise is one thing but putting it into practice is another.

    Sue wrote on February 17th, 2010

    I loved the “healthy snack option video”…
    My favourite part is: “Let’s put some cheese and beans on this massive plate of low-fat nachos and now it’s totally healthy because it has carbs and proteins… ooooh”

    I can do that too.
    Look at my McDonald’s Burger
    it has lettuce in it, it is now a healthy snack because it has the following food groups: protein (melted processed gum-like fake cheese), lettuce and a rotten tomato (practically a salad!), and carbs (unfortunately this toasted bun isn’t as the healthy as the low-fat nachos… but, you can’t have everything…)
    Let’s making it healthier by getting rid of the only thing that tastes good, the burger, and now you’re both healthy and a martyr for not eating helpless cows.

    Look ma, no medical degree!

    Ellie wrote on February 17th, 2010
  31. So if I’ve lost the genetic lottery and still remain hefty even after following Primal for years and years does that mean that I’m not allowed to talk about it? Or does that mean it doesn’t work and all of you are just crazy?

    Glad to see everyone just ignored Mike’s point. Maybe Primal eating makes you an idiot.

    Matt Dualhammers wrote on February 17th, 2010
  32. Ummm… Anyone remember Susan Powter? She was fat. Then she was skinny. So… fat makes you fat, right? We should be eating pasta with chickpeas, right?

    Allbeef Patty wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Oh that name rings a bell! Susan Powter certainly had her way with us. Bowls of air-popped corn! I wonder if she ever suffered the ill effects of her very bad dietary advice.

      Jeanmarie wrote on February 17th, 2010
  33. I think, with all due respect to any obese bloggers here (and I genuinely don’t mean to sound terse) that, no, thin doesn’t always equal healthy, but fat NEVER does. Yes, many people who we encounter that are obese (according to the CDC obesity equals at least 30 lbs overweight) may be on the path to fitness, but that just makes them HEALTHIER, not actually HEALTHY. Your blood vessels are still struggling to supply nutrients to your body, which elevates your blood pressure. The weight of your body is still reeking havoc on your knees and ankles and that’s just for starters, let’s not even mention what’s happening to your heart. Now, 1) if a so-called “fitness expert” is aware of the afore mentioned biological effects and still doesn’t practice what he/she purports to know, he’s a fool and you can’t be both a fool and an expert. And 2) If the said “expert” isn’t aware of these effects, well again, “fool”.

    Michael Ezell wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Just a comment, a good way to look at obesity is using the BMI. If someone has a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2 they are considered obese. Tall males could be just overweight with the 30 lbs. calculation, where as short women would be obese using the 30 lbs. mark. I like using BMI to assess obesity-it is more of a clue also exactly how obese someone is (there are different stages).

      Mary Brighton, MS, RD wrote on February 19th, 2010
      • BMI? riiight, so a powerlifter with some visible muscle-hiding fat is unhealthier than someone else weighing a bit less with no muscles or a concentration camp survivor…

        mm wrote on August 4th, 2010
  34. Mark said it perfectly in the last sentence –

    “We’re always going to react to appearance, but we should never base our ultimate appraisal on appearance alone.”

    Sue wrote on February 17th, 2010
    • Amen.

      Todd wrote on February 17th, 2010
  35. Great perspective on this Mark. I have to admit, when I hear someone touting fitness, nutrition, etc. I look them over good to see if they practice what they preach and it always bothers me when their appearance says otherwise but you have given me another perspective to consider. Thank you!

    Shari wrote on February 17th, 2010
  36. I mildly disagree…

    You wouldn’t take real estate advice from someone who doesn’t own/sell/invest in real estate. You wouldn’t take parenting advice from someone who isn’t a damn good parent. You wouldn’t take advice on opening a small business from a person who deosn’t own a successful one.

    So why would you take fitness advice from someone who isn’t fit?

    And before someone/everyone points this out: yes, I know sport coaches can’t do the things that their athletes do. My counterpoint to that, is 1) sport coaches are a notable exception to my stance for many specific reasons, and 2) sport coaches and fitness coaches are two diffrent animals.

    Just one opinion, DaveR

    DaveR wrote on February 18th, 2010
  37. It should be about the information. I know a lot of golf instructors who can ‘naturally’ strike a ball better than anyone but have no frigin idea whatthey do or how to teach it correctly. I know others the no everything but aren’t ‘gifted’ players but they students improve every time.

    pjnoir wrote on February 18th, 2010
  38. Not necessarily a fan, but Jillian Michaels use to be overweight. As a teen and later, I think. So, it’s not her genes, its her hard work.

    And other than her part in that stupid TV show, I haven’t heard her say anything wrong. And she’s one of the very few who recognize the diet and acne connection.

    Betterways wrote on February 18th, 2010

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