Month: March 2010

Yogurt Mania

How did we survive all these years without functional yogurt products? If it weren’t for Yoplait and Dannon enhancing our digestive facilities, I bet we’d never get anything done in the bathroom. I, for one, can’t recall the last time I had a satisfying bowel movement without concurrently sucking on an extra large Purple Gogurt as I sat astride the toilet.

Yoplait and Dannon are responsible for injecting more culture into our lives than Warhol, The Smithsonian, The New Yorker, and ancient Athens combined. I love the way those two superpowers ultra-pasteurize their yogurt so as to rid it of any naturally-occurring, unpredictable, rogue probiotic cultures (unfettered bacterial growth? – no thanks) before supplanting them with nice, orderly probiotic cultures (and not too much of them, thanks). Mother nature? Natural selection? Ha! As if natural foods could improve my immunity and digestive health better than multi-national corporations. You think sauerkraut has your best interests in mind?

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Urban Workouts

Remember Blair Morrison? He’s the dude who got Primal in the Netherlands for his entry into the PB Fitness Video Contest, and also placed 7th at the 2009 CrossFit Games. Blair wrote to me with his latest workout video – which will close this post – and a reminder: don’t forget about urban Groks!

I live in Malibu, just outside of LA proper, and it’s not exactly an urban environment. LA itself isn’t a classic urban landscape; it’s more urban sprawl than anything else. We’ve got hundreds of miles of wilderness – mountains, beaches, trails, canyons – to climb, run, crawl, or hike, but very little skyscraper to scale or subway turnstile to hurdle. We give a ton of attention to the great outdoors, partly because of my affinity for it and partly because it fits the Primal theme really well. For today, though, I want to address the urban warriors among us. If you’re lucky enough to live in a vibrant, bustling cityscape teeming with ledges, poles, fences, staircases, and tall buildings, you owe it yourself to expand your workout regimen to encompass your (un)natural environment.

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Are Humans Hard Wired For A Limited Social Circle?

Despite growing insight into neuroscience and the physical limitations of our consciousness, we have the tendency to ascribe a limitlessness to our minds. We readily accept the existence of certain boundaries in the material world, like fences, social stations, rules, laws (of physics and of states), or physical characteristics (“You must be this tall to ride the roller-coaster”), but when it comes to the inner world – the mind, our memories, our imagination, our cognition, and our social skills – we have trouble conceiving of real mechanical limits. When a word eludes us, playing about the periphery of our cognition (“tip of the tongue”), do we complain about faulty hardware? When we forget that cute girl’s name we just met at the party, do we blame the lack of available short-term memory data “chunks”? It’s only through neurological research that we’re even “aware” of the bioelectric interplay that is our thought process; in general, in everyday existence, we don’t think of our thoughts and our emotions in cold, mechanistic terms. We simply think, remember, feel, etc., without getting all meta about it.

Yet it’s clear that there are physical limits to our minds. The consensus on short-term memory, for example, is that most people are limited to retaining just seven items at once, or seven chunks of data – a physical limitation, hard wired into our brains. What if we were similarly hard-wired to effectively manage a limited number of personal relationships? It seems plausible. If memory has a corresponding physical capacity, why wouldn’t other functions of the brain?

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Dear Mark: The Semmelweis Reflex

Sometimes the path of Primal transformation includes a series of upendings. It’s in part a process of uprooting daily habits that don’t serve your well-being. Maybe it’s a re-envisioning of your identity from an unhealthy, tired, or otherwise plagued person to that of a strong, fit, confident individual. More than likely, it’s about overturning oft-taught if not long held conventional thinking about healthy living. When we embark on our Primal path, we likely anticipate at least some of these changes, but what about the conflict prompted by other people’s grappling with the Primal Blueprint as we reflect it? What is it about our Primal process that upsets other people’s apple carts and provokes sometimes exaggerated resistance? See what reader Evan has to say.

Dear Mark,

I’ve been following the PB for a year and a half now and am proud to consider myself a diehard. I’m stronger, fitter, leaner, and for the first time in years feel energized throughout the day. My problem is this: I have a brother who’s an MD and seems to take my bucking of conventional wisdom personally. Whether it’s dogging my diet or my workout, he’s never got a shortage of offhand comments every time we get together with the family. I stopped arguing with him a few months ago because it just seemed useless and I frankly don’t want to make tensions worse for my family. Care to show up at one of these dinners to take on my brother’s resentments? Barring that, do you have any advice for getting him off my back? Thanks and Grok on!

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Weekend Link Love

Can’t afford Vibrams? Want some stylin’ kicks? InvisibleShoe shows you how to make your own huaraches! (originally found by CrossFit Marin)

You may have read my post on P90X and Crossfit earlier this week. For a little more perspective, read Sterling Advice’s article: Can a person be Primal while following P90X?

If I ran network television, I’d fill up all the prime time slots with TED speeches. You’ll find a couple gems this week in Jamie Oliver’s food speech and Daniel Kahneman’s discussion of two versions of happiness.

What does a Primal kitchen look like? Mike Meire at Apartment Therapy bends the norm to create the Farm Project Kitchen.

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Crock Pot Pork-Stuffed Peppers

After a busy day, opening your front door and inhaling the savory, warm aroma of dinner cooking is a great feeling. Especially if you can take credit for it, even if you’ve been at work all day. The Crock Pot (which is actually a brand name of what is generically called a slow cooker) is a humble but ingenious kitchen appliance. If you can find the time to fill it with some assortment of meat and vegetables and a little broth or water, the Crock Pot will take it from there. While you head off to work or pull weeds in the yard or just lie on the couch and relax, the Crock Pot slowly works its magic.

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