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

Vibrant Health is About More Than Food

baskinginthesunI’ve been thinking about human health for a long, long time – pretty much my entire life. When I was running marathons and battling injuries and illness, I was missing it, and so I sought it. I figured moving on to triathlons would help, maybe by “spreading the damage” across three disciplines, rather than just the one, but that didn’t do it. And so I started tweaking my eating plan by paying attention to anthropological evidence of the human ancestral diet. Obviously, this worked, and for a while, I felt I’d found the optimal path to human health. Things were good.

But my journey didn’t stop at diet. It wasn’t enough. My physical activity had to change, too: resistance training; sprints; hikes, walks, and other long, easy movements; and a marked de-emphasis on Chronic Cardio.

Then I started thinking about sunlight. I’d always felt better when I had a bit of a tan going, and sunny days are invariably happy days, so maybe there was something happening to our physiology. Maybe it wasn’t just “psychological.” This suspicion was confirmed by the production of vitamin D in our skin in response to sunlight. Hmm.

This really got me thinking. Sunlight, nutrition, exercise – what do they have in common? They’re all environmental factors. Bear with me. You’ve got to think about these things a little differently that usual; the classic connotation of “environment” refers to one’s physical surroundings; stuff like trees, buildings, forests, the composition of the atmosphere, or climate. But really, if you’re going to be technical about it, environment refers to an organism’s temporal, physical, spatial, cultural, nutritive, hormonal, and psychological surroundings. Anything that affects or impacts an organism’s physiological or emotional development can be said to be an environmental factor.

So I started thinking about how all the other environmental factors in Grok’s life may have shaped him (and us). As far as I was concerned, everything was fair game. It all matters, albeit to varying degrees.

You’ve cleared the pantry, Primalized it, and you’re paying attention to the way you exercise. You’re even playing again. But you’re not done. You still need to pay attention to a few more things, a few more environmental factors. Some may seem strange or unlikely, others totally doable and intuitive. Still others will require exiting your comfort zone and enduring odd looks (as if you aren’t already used to those). Give them all a chance, though. This is a challenge, after all, and challenges require at least a modicum of effort.

Challenge #6: Get Adequate Sleep

Make sleep high priority: Late nights at the office. Late nights partying. Late nights… watching TV. Whether it’s business or pleasure, we’re busier than ever and sleep is often the first thing to suffer. I challenge you to get adequate sleep every night this month. What amounts to adequate is for you to decide. I think most people know how much sleep they need. Some people get by on six hours a night no problem. Others need eight or more. The important thing is you wake up feeling energized and ready to go.

(This is just one of many challenges. Learn about all of the 30-Day Primal Blueprint Challenges here.)

There’s a lot more to adequate sleep than just the time spent in slumber. Eight hours might feel like six if you sleep with bad infomercials illuminating the room with blue light following an espresso nightcap. Six hours might feel like eight if you sleep in total darkness following a day of hiking. Play around. Tinker. But be honest. You know how much sleep you really need. You know how early you should get to sleep. Do you really need to watch Leno tonight? Conan was better, anyway. Tape those shows. Set your DVR. Good, solid sleep is becoming a real rarity nowadays, but it feels so satisfying and it’s so ultimately rewarding. Do it for a month (and just try to revert when it’s done).

Challenge #8: Get Adequate Sunlight

Soak in the rays: It’s difficult to emphasize enough the importance of vitamin D. In a world where we go from our houses to our cars, from our cars to the office place, from the office place to our cars and back home again many of us are woefully deficient. My challenge to you this month is to get 15 minutes of sun exposure each day of the 30-day challenge. If sun is hard to come by in your area take a supplement instead.

(This is just one of many challenges. Learn about all of the 30-Day Primal Blueprint Challenges here.)

I hesitate to call this a real challenge. After all, basking in real, unfiltered sunlight is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Plus, you don’t have to worry about getting greasy sunblock all over your hands. Where the challenge lies is in finding the time and finding the actual sunlight. Fifteen minutes isn’t much, but it has to be fifteen minutes squeezed into a limited window. Where I live, I can get adequate UV from around late morning to early evening, so I’ve got a big window for my fifteen minutes. Finding fifteen minutes of good sunlight in, for example, the Pacific Northwest, Canada, or the UK, is a different story altogether. If that’s your situation, a vitamin D supplement will suffice just fine.

There are other factors, too, even if they weren’t mentioned in the official PB Challenge post, and I want you to think about them throughout the month.

Footwear

Lose it. Our feet are finely crafted (yeah, yeah, it’s just an expression, not a literal description of how they developed over the millennia) things, forged of sinew, muscle, and numerous bones and tendons. I’m not going to say they’re perfect, but they’ve undergone a lot of environmental stress and fine-tuning to get to where they are today. And so, for this month, I ask you to let them be. Go barefoot as much as possible. Barring that, wear only minimal shoes. Wide toe beds, no arch support, no raised heels. Vibrams are a good option, or maybe a pair of soft moccasins. For extra credit, try to work out barefoot or in barefoot-esque footwear.

Posture

I think we can agree that modern folks’ postures are pretty poor. We sit at jobs for eight hours a day, we slump on the couch, we “take a load off” and flop down upon getting home. But, for most of history, people were on their feet. Heck, even chairs were limited to nobility until a couple centuries ago, and I don’t think I need to go into toilets. I’m not going to command you to squat to poop or burn your chairs, but I will ask you to be mindful of how you stand, sit, and, yes, use the facilities. For this month, limit your sitting to inextricable situations: driving (unless you’re a Segwayer), dentist visits, roller coasters. Note that I didn’t say “the office” or “the bathroom.” That’s right – now’s the month to talk to your boss about getting a standup workstation and to consider putting some footprints on the toilet rim. Good luck.

Stress Management

As a people, we are drastically overstressed. Grok experienced acute stress and trauma, not chronic stress in the form of hour-long traffic jams or all night study sessions before the final because you forgot to take notes during the semester. Grok worried about food and shelter, but so do we – in addition to everything that modern life exclusively heaps upon us. It’s all stress and our body interprets it all the same. So, removing excess stress from your life is the next challenge. Avoid stressful situations – the superfluous ones, at least. We all need some stress in our lives, and we can’t avoid everything (nor should we), but losing your mind over political arguments in blog post comment sections, trying to change a vegan’s mind, or entertaining the destructive presence of a nagging, selfish, parasitic significant other in your life are all examples of superfluous stress-inducing influences. Avoid those and welcome the good type of stressors (exercise, IF, mentally challenging yourself).

Nature

Nature is our default position, our starting point, yet we live apart from it. It isn’t necessary to go starting up a commune in the woods, but it is important – and healthy – to visit the great outdoors. There are established benefits to immersing oneself in nature, and I, for one, find it recharges my batteries. This month, make it a point to go for a hike, visit a park, or just get away from it all as best you can at least once a week.

And one final challenge: what other environmental factors play a role in human health? This article isn’t comprehensive. Tell me what I’ve missed. Do some thinking and report back in the comment section. Identify the factor(s), explain how they have the potential to affect human health, and talk about how you’ve positively impacted your health by paying attention. Thanks!

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. We have adjustable desks at work, but I generally wear 4 inch heels (at 5’3″), which I WILL NOT stand in all day. I am going to have to break down and get some office house shoes so I can stand to work and be comfy, and change into my platforms so I can still look taller and cute when I go warm up my caveman food for lunch.

    Karyn (Calvin's wife) wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • Better yet, wear NO shoes when standing at your desk!

      This has to be much easier for women – most of your shoes are slip-on anyway. I take my shoes off at my desk and put them back on when I have to roam the office.

      I find that standing for long periods in shoes is uncomfortable, but standing sock-footed is very easy.

      Kris wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • Are there any rules against going barefoot in your office? Why do you think you need to be 4″ taller than you actually are to be “cute”? I’ve always found barefoot (and short) women preferable to taller ones in heels personally, anyway. Unless maybe you’re worried about your height affecting others’ professional opinion of you? I don’t get it.

      Uncephalized wrote on September 22nd, 2010
      • I don’t NEED to wear 4 inch platforms to be cute, as I am pretty cute on my own, but my 4 inch platforms (which are fabulous) complete my outfit, which usually means my pants are cut longer than if I wore flats. That’s all. I am cranking up my desk right now and will go barefoot today. Hopefully no one will notice that I’m due for a peticure. :)

        Karyn (Calvin's wife) wrote on September 23rd, 2010
    • Oh, I definitely think you should get a couple of pairs of VFF. Some of them could be considered dressy.

      hiker wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • I started standing at my desk about 2-3 months ago. I just slip my shoes off and then put them back on to walk around. The only issue I’ve had so far with standing is that the carpet is super thin and covers a concrete floor, which isn’t exactly natural or optimal. I’m looking for a yoga mat or something that isn’t too squishy but adds a little cushion.

      And yes, I will never give up my heels. Never. I just make sure I alternate with flats and stretch my calves really well at the end of the day.

      Meghan wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  2. I’ve definitely felt so much better since making many of these changes over the past few months. I converted my desk to a standing one, despite all the comments and odd looks. Every afternoon at work I go outside, take my shirt off, and lie in the grass in the sun for 15 minutes (more looks). I broke myself into Vibrams to the point where I hiked Old Rag mountain in Virginia in them (8.8 miles of beautiful, rocky nature) with no problems.

    I still need to work more on sleep. I generally get 6-7 hours, but I could probably use more, and I definitely am using electronics most nights. The couple of hours after my wife goes to bed are my “alone time” where I can just do “me” things, so I really value that time. I don’t have any sleep quality issues though.

    I think my thing to add is what I just said there – solitude. We’re social creatures, to be sure, but there’s a lot of noise in our daily lives. You can’t go anywhere without muzak in the background, cars roaring down the road, planes overhead, iPods on, to the point where many people are genuinely uncomfortable with silence and *must* fill it (with idle conversation, music, whatever). I personally think that being comfortable with quiet relaxation is an important primal skill.

    Kris wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • Old Rag mountain in vibrams…I’m jealous. My boyfriend and I aren’t in the best of shape YET, but hiking Old Rag is definitely on my to-do list. First though I want to get to the top of Sharp Top in Bedford without taking the bus. :P

      Sarah D wrote on September 22nd, 2010
      • You’ve gotta do it! Old Rag mountain is an AWESOME hike, especially with the beautiful fall weather coming on! All hikes up in Shenandoah National Park are worth checking out though =)

        Sarah Due wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  3. Great article, thank you for posting. The barefoot thing struck a chord with me. One benefit of BF running I realised is how drastically your balance improves after a few weeks. I also feel that basic gym moves like deadlifts and kettlebell movements are enhanced by BF or minimal footwear.

    Simon Kemp wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  4. Right on, Kris!

    Debra wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  5. Relationships

    Pay attention to the people in your life because they are so very important. Friends, family, coworkers, strangers even… be respectful, smile at people, tell people how you feel about them and how important they are to you, spend time with them, be supportive, bring em out into nature with you. I know the moods, actions, ups/downs, everything going on with the people in my life have a huge effect on how I feel. Relationships, of any sort, can be difficult and stressful to maintain at times, but they are so worth it. People feel good about themselves when they feel important to other people, part of a community.

    That’s just my $.02. :)

    sarah wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • That being said, I also agree with Kris above who posted about solitude. Being able to have and enjoy some quiet relaxation time is incredibly important too. ;)

      sarah wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • Well said. Relationships are absolutely vital but one needs to also take time to themselves daily as Kris explained above. We are constantly connected to the world these days when its completely unnecessary.

      People talking on the phone while driving is a HUGE pet peeve of mind… why not just wait till you are off the road?

      Relationships are huge but one needs to learn how to just enjoy oneself sometimes and prevent interruptions when possible.

      Primal Toad wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • I absolutely agree with Sarah. One of the most important factors in good mental health is human interaction. We are social creatures by nature, and although that doesn’t mean we need constant interaction, it does mean that we need quality interaction, something I know is lacking in my life. Even though I spend a lot of time around my friends and family, I don’t spend a lot of time with friends and family – a very subtle but important difference.

      What about you?

      mariah wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • +1. There was a TED talk about how the people that live the longest are the ones who have good friends that they keep through their entire lives. Your social environment is also hugely important to your emotional and general well-being.

      kats wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  6. Carowinds has a stand-up roller-coaster call the Vortex.

    Is an urinal a stand-up toilet for #1 and 2?

    I’ve been standing at work for a month now. I have noticed it helps me work on posture and trying to correct my kyphosis.

    Jonathan wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  7. In addition to solitude (which I do agree we could use more of), we also need community time. We’ve all heard of those studies where kids were healthier emotionally and physically when their families ate dinner together. Wouldn’t that be true for grown-ups too? I’m sure Grok ate his meals with others in his tribe fairly often.

    I think it’s important for everyone to find their “tribe” and spend time with them frequently. Definitely keeps my mood in good shape!

    Sheila wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  8. Quality family time. Where familial stress is unhealthy, time spent with family in a positive fashion increases your good mood lowering stress hormones. When hiking or hunting(my favorite) if you push all your senses to the maximum you will notice more, subtle breezes, scents, noises, animals to observe and maybe get for dinner. Talk about the ultimate organic meat! Last year I spent 45 minutes just watching raccoons in the National Forest that had a smile on my face for days.

    Vance Gatlin II wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • My family was making me ill, literally. From the food my mother cooked and fed me, to my fathers alcoholism and my Mom’s constant nagging.

      Sure glad I met a man that would take me away from them, far far away. Now I can love them again from a distance and have normal phone conversations when we call each other.

      Donnersberg wrote on April 18th, 2011
  9. Way to go on your hike Kris. Ive been hiking the last couple of years in cheap sandals and I cant wait to get started again this fall in my vibrams as well. As an avid hiker for years, I’ve been anti-hiking boot for a while now. Unless youre hiking a glacier or high altitude climbing, I dont see the point in a boot. I think it gives people a false sense of safety. Ive seen numerous hikers with bulky hiking boots just trudge through whatever, not paying the slightest bit of attention to where they are stepping. Ive even noticed the same with myself in the past.

    But take away the boot and you will pay a lot closer attention to where and how you are stepping. And I think that awareness is actually more likely to prevent an injury than some heavy boot that wraps around your foot but actually does nothing to add any stability. Plus I feel that I move faster and smoother when I’m closer to being barefoot.

    jerry wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  10. I think some type of spirituality is really important, too. Whether it be praying, or meditating, or something else, it really helps put the world in perspective, and reduces stress. For me, anyway =)

    Alyssa wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  11. Clean, clutter-free surroundings. Aesthetics. Living in a comfortable environment that reflects who you are is relaxing and rejuvenative.

    Jesse wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • That is a big one for me. An uncluttered environment does amazing things so my positive mood and concentration. Thanks for the reminder. Time to clean tomorrow.

      Maya wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  12. At work I rigged a standing workstation where I pass half the day; the other half of the day I reset the workstation to the “sitting” position and I sit in a 75cm stability ball. It is likely that Grok did not have stability ball (AKA Swiss ball) but I am sure he would have enjoyed it!

    atkinsfan wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  13. Didn’t they used to urinate on wounds for a disinfectant?

    Brandon wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  14. After reviewing and considering some other reading on mindfulness, I began to wonder why don’t I become more “Primally” mindful, so that in all of the concept of the Primal Blueprint, perhaps I can take one at a time and daily just be in the present about that principle instead of what I’m going to do or what I did?

    Clay Coker wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  15. Excellent post. Sums up all the non-diet related lifestyle elements in one easy-to-read essay!

    gilliebean wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  16. The sunlight in Minnesota in the winter is sometimes hard to come by. I will definitely take a Vitamin D supplement this year. Also need to keep 5 year old Grok Jr. from coming into my bed at 3 in morning and waking me from a deep slumber.

    David

    David Grim wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • some might say that Grok Jr. would have been in bed with Grok back in the day…just something to think about. We’ve gotten so far away from our roots in more ways than eating…family beds are something that was the norm. I don’t know how your family feels about it. (And honestly, if my kids were still coming into our bed, I’m not sure what I’d do…but it is something to think about.)

      Annie wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  17. This may be stretching the idea of environment a bit, but consistent mental challenges are important as a part of overall good health. I think everyone knows skillions of ways to do this, so I’ll offer just one bit of advice that has made a difference to me: make it about the journey and not the destination to avoid undue stress. I’m learning Mandarin and how to play bridge, as a couple of examples, but I have not set any sort of deadline on completing either activity and I’m enjoying every moment, rather than feeling pressured to KNOW Chinese or KNOW how to play bridge. If you do best under pressure, by all means set some hard and fast goals, but it’s not a requirement and it’s not really the completion that’s important if you just want a mental workout. Nobody’s grading you on whether or not you finish that sudoku. ;-)

    Paige wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  18. Everyone has really great ideas! Mine has more to do with personal hygiene. I’ve given up shampoo and commercial cleansers for the past year and now I don’t have to shower as often! I have really dry skin so I could never shower every day and be comfortable. Now that I don’t use soap I shower 2-3 times a week- and I use baking soda to clean and apple cider vinegar to rinse my hair (and makes it really soft). Soap usually strips away all the oil from your scalp so your body overproduces to compensate. When you get back to balance, daily showering is not necessarily needed.

    I feel removing certain chemicals that could be toxic from my environment enhances my healthy lifestyle. I also use baking soda to brush my teeth. (using a tiny bit of peppermint essential oil can help) I make my own soap (still wash my hands), lotion and laundry soap. I’m still using commercial stuff for the kitchen, but hopefully I’ll get that figured out as well.

    Basically all my cleaning needs is accomplished with baking soda, borax, washing soda, oxygen bleach, white vinegar, and homemade soap. Grok’s environment was no where near as polluted as it is today so every little bit helps.

    Johanna wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  19. Question: Any recommendations for a graduate program loosely based on the material on this post (the primal lifestyle if you will)?

    Paleo-anthropology, socio-cultural anthropology, sociology, even cognitive science or evolutionary psychology? Thanks.

    Chris G wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  20. My husband hates sitting down, he doesn’t use sunscreen and eats lamb when he’s tired. He always goes to bed early and exercises outside every single morning. Is it possible that I’m married to Grok and he doesn’t even know he’s Grok?

    I sqat a lot. That has to count for something. ;-P

    Sarah HI wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  21. I don’t have another factor to add, but the post is a great reminder that our hobby of gardening is healthy not just because of the fresh organic produce we have in our backyard, but the time outdoors with nature getting daily sunshine, and it’s a great stress reliever to boot. Hope I remember that the next time I am tempted to ignore something that needs my attention in the garden!

    Patty wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  22. meditation, journalling, visiting loved ones, travel and adventure.

    tim ferris said to live to take mini retirements through your life. he is 110% right.

    kim wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  23. This is one of my favorite blog posts yet, both Mark’s blog and the comments.

    What I do these days whenever I can is paint, but of course that is properly done standing up anyway!

    I love my Vibrams, but for the moment cannot get into them as I’ve had the gout for the past 3 weeks.

    Mark, I think the gout came about from increased protein intake maybe, which apparently increases kidney filtration? I’m guessing that when I cut grains out of my diet about 8 weeks ago, I should not have replaced them with more meat. Maybe left meat consumption the same, I was already eating a decent amount of it, and replaced the grains with more fat and more veggies. I’m going to work towards this in any case.

    Also, I remember that the Drs. Eades recommend drinking more water with their diet, so I’m keeping that in mind too.

    I like the idea of soft moccasins, going to look for some.

    Thanks, Mark, and thanks everyone for the great comments.

    Sam Cree wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  24. I have been going barefoot the majority of the time for over a year. During my last pregnancy, my feet swelled up so much at the end that all I could wear was croc’s to work. I had to wear footwear because I am a nurse, but since I did homecare, I could remove my shoes in the car and many people ask you to remove your shoes in their home also. Now, I only work 2 days a week at a little boys home so I pretty much get to go barefoot all the time. It took some getting used to but now I can’t stand shoes for any length of time unless my feet are cold. It makes a big difference in your balance to go barefoot.
    Sunlight is a challenge in upstate NY but I do try to get outside for a walk with my babies as often as possible. I’ll be taking a supplement!
    Sleep is still a challenge because the babies wake up at night still. Whether they are in my bed or in their cribs, it doesn’t matter, it wakes me up at least once if not 3 times a night. But I know they won’t be so little forever so there is hope!
    I think that another environmental factor is all of the constant “connectedness” everyone seems to be obsessed with. You can’t go to the store to buy groceries without being subjected to someone’s conversation. God forbid someone walk through the produce isle without giving a blow by blow of their every move to someone else who is somewhere else in the store! Argh! Get out of my way! My husband will actually talk back to them as if he is talking on the other end of the line. In another time we would make conversation with the person in line with us. Not anymore. Very sad. Then again, Grok wasn’t in line at Wegmans…
    But I really think we need to disconnect ourselves, step away from the inanities on Facebook and whatever the heck Twitter is, turn off the cell phone/blackberry/palm/droid or whatever and go play in the woods. Build a fort. Play with your kids. Get a real life!

    Elizabeth Hull wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  25. “Tell me what I’ve missed.”

    Well Mark, you missed the most important environmental factor for not just Grok, but for all life on this planet. It has to do with our primary purpose for being, at the very root of our DNA. Our hormones adjust to it accordingly throughout our life span. Once you are done with it, your DNA takes note and your cells grow old and die. It is as primitive as primitive can be.

    It’s SEX!

    As the primal lifestyle has transformed my body back towards youth, sex has taken on a whole new level of importance and has had a synergistic effect towards that feeling of youth and vigor, which I had lost as I aged on the SAD. I’m 50 but feel more like I did when I was 30 and feeling younger every month.

    Asturian wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • I’m 62 and even I have noticed this effect. A lot. It’s easily one of the nicer ones.

      Sam Cree wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • I notice this too, strongly, and I’m 62. Easily one of the nicer results you get from the PB. Not sure if it’s from the diet or the exercising, or maybe both.

      Sam Cree wrote on September 22nd, 2010
      • It’s all of it. My view of health is that it is the optimal regulation of our hormones. Our hormones act as a biochemical interface between our cells at the genetic level and the environment we live in. We respond to our environment through the dynamic symphony of our hormones.

        The nutrients we eat/drink, the way we move, how we sleep, the stress we experience, our injuries, the air, the sun, the temperature, our emotions, our sex, everything affects our hormones, which in turn affect our health at the genetic level — turning genes on or off to express our health.

        Sickness is when our hormones get out of tune, out of balance, and dysregulated.

        Asturian wrote on September 23rd, 2010
        • I agree … and so does Mr Grok ;-)!

          About 10 years ago I came across a therapist who had trained conventionally as a GP but later moved to psychotherapy believing most illness was a result of lack of balance in life which resulted in what he referred to as ‘dis-ease’ ie being out of alignment with your genes … sort your lifestyle and many of the diseases/syndromes he was dealing with disappeared, particularly in the chronic fatique area. He proposes it’s to do with hormonal balance and the hypothalamus.

          Of course as we all know here eating in genetic alignment balances all kinds of hormones!

          There’s something very sexy about the Grok physique, must be something Primal calling me LOL!

          Kelda wrote on September 24th, 2010
  26. I’m a recently retired special education teacher and this year am subbing in a nearby district. I’m on both the teacher and instructional assistant lists. IA’s spend a lot of their time outside on the playground, so even though I’m in Oregon and sunlight can be minimal in the winter, most likely I’ll be out a lot in the daytime.

    I also snowshoe and am really hoping for decent snow this year. Plus I need to practice my snow skills for my upcoming PCT thru-hike in 2011.

    I’ve been going barefoot at home for over a year and I think that was a major factor in the no blisters on the bottom of the feet this year on my 10-day section hike.

    hiker wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  27. Nice post!

    I have lived and trained hard in London for the past few years and now I am in Miami for a year… holy hell do I feel great with all the sun. My Vit D supplement worked fine, but it just feels so much better when its au natural!

    Rob wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  28. Ahh I love posts like these, gets people thinking. Thanks Mark.

    I am shortsighted and feel very vulnerable without my glasses or contacts. I feel it’s like my eyes have devolved because we don’t have the need to look at things far away anymore. I wonder if living in a crowded place contributes to this factor even more? Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated cities in the world must have the highest proportion of shortsighted people. I know because almost 80% of my high school class wore glasses.

    The question is, do we lose the glasses to restore our eyesight? I have heard from optometrists that it can worsen your eyesight…would be great if anyone could shed some light on this! Just don’t recommend laser surgery; I don’t think Grok would let anyone open up his eye with a beam.

    Chris wrote on September 22nd, 2010
    • I was just reading that eating grains (during childhood) can cause near-sightedness! For some reason, it lengthens the eyeball. And I’m pretty sure rice is a diet staple in Hong Kong. I don’t know if there’s anything that can be done about it after, though.

      Lisa wrote on September 24th, 2010
  29. Creativity.
    Grok painted on walls. Probably not just to show off his cool hunting story, but also because painting is fun. Any sort of creativity can be fun and, I think, necessary.
    A sense of accomplishment is one of the best antidotes to stress I know of.
    And the short term stress caused by fear of failure is probably the good kind.

    Jacques Blaauw wrote on September 22nd, 2010
  30. Here’s a thought I’ve been having about Grok lately. When you watch documentaries or read about modern-day hunter gatherer societies, they always have work songs (and cooking songs, and hunting songs, and warrior songs, etc.). Just like less clutter in their lives, they have less clutter in their minds. They focus on the task at hand and celebrate it while they do it. It’s a more meditative approach to our daily lives, and could make us take more ownership of the tasks that shape us.

    September wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  31. I like the idea of going barefoot but what about people that are flat footed like myself? I wear orthotics to prevent pronation and am nervous about running or squatting without wearing my orthotics.

    Sandy wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  32. Music. Not the kind you use as a barrier between you and the world–I don’t wear my iPod around the city–but the kind that lets your soul out while you bop around your apartment, socialize, cruise, or exercise. I never remember who sings what and am pretty much clueless in conversations about music, but if I hear something I like, I’ll find it and buy it. It has a dramatically positive effect on my state of mind. Even sad songs can help you vent some emotion, when necessary.

    Ohazy wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  33. I bought my wife a “Happy Lite” full spectrum lamp for her SAD. We live in West Michigan which is notorious for constant overcast skies in the winter months. The light has helped with her symptoms of fatigue and mild depression during winter, but I’m wondering if it also helps stimulate vitamin D production. If so, then I’ll use it in addition to vitamin D supplements. I’m sure it’s just wishful thinking and I’m sure it doesn’t work nearly as well as the real deal, but every bit counts, right?

    Jay wrote on September 23rd, 2010
    • And by SAD, I mean Seasonal Affective Disorder…NOT Standard American diet.

      We’ve taken care of the latter :0)

      Jay wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  34. Lots of comments about work spaces. Didn’t see any on the level to which we are surrounded with electronic cables running in the walls around us, the floor below us, and the celing above us. Imagine if you work in a high-rise.

    Daily meditation, or quiet time is essential. So many are in what the Vedas call a “Rajistic” state of mind. Always on the go. Learn to quiet your mind.

    Bobby Fernandez wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  35. It’s interesting that you write this post during the Ritu Sandhi, or joining of seasons. This is a particular time when Grok would have been more tuned in to his environment than normal as every season is different from the previous year. Grok had no groundhogs to tell him how long winter would last.

    Bobby Fernandez wrote on September 23rd, 2010
    • It really does not take that much to tune into the environment. I used to do solo backpacking when I was younger. You could sense the difference in the enhanced awareness of the environment in just two or three days with heightened sense of smell, sight, and sound.

      My maternal grandmother use to be able to forecast the weather just by observing the bugs in her garden. Sounds skeptical I know but my mother says she was never wrong.

      Asturian wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  36. I do recommend standing desk too. However, standing all day is a bit tiresome. I purchased adjustable geek desk here http://www.geekdesk.com/
    I also use got saddle chair from here http://www.backdesigns.com/Salli-Saddle-Chairs-C156.aspx
    So, I can easily alternate between sitting and standing. It was quite an investment, but it is worth it.

    Sergey wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  37. @Steptember-that is such a great observation! I think that the concept of drudgery probably doesn’t exist in hunter-gatherer societies for the simple reason that they transform “work” into social/community building “play”.

    this post is fabulous! it also helps me remember that “saving the environment” is not necessarily about some exotic place “out there”, but clearing up our daily environment (in the full sense of the word) has such a powerful trickle down effect.

    jennifer wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  38. This is on the topic of nature. I find sleeping outside in the tent to have a very positive effect on me. I have 4 acres so I leave the tent up often. Its very relaxing to feel the breeze and listen to the crickets chirp. I wake up energized and ready to take on a class of Kindergartners. I sleep out side a couple of times a week. Even on a “school night”. Sleeping so far from the house requires me to “squat” in the middle of the night when I have to “go”.

    Krista wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  39. I already stand up and squat all day at work (cleaning houses), I take my kids to the playground most evenings. We eat 80-90% primally.
    My bad habit is staying up way too late. I just love to have some time to myself after the kids are in bed. Being self employed with no real time frame to show up for work doesnt help me get up early either. But I’ve decided to make an effort to go to bed earlier a little bit each day, and Oct 1st I plan on being in bed at Sundown to take advantage of the natural hormone release.
    Its still in the 90s here. As soon as it cools down I will try the No-Poo thing again (no shampoo/commercial soaps) I remember the ACV rinses did keep my hair soft (I have a lot of hair!)
    I’m considering hand crafting my own feet covers (“shoes”). I should go look for ideas…

    ILovePrimal wrote on September 23rd, 2010
  40. Sleep is my current project. So many things to do that I never get enough.

    And as for stress management, I’m currently in my fifth day of lying on the beach in Maui :)

    Gal @ 60 in 3 wrote on September 23rd, 2010

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