It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
My initial interest in Mark’s Primal Blueprint was, I’ll admit, primarily driven by aesthetics. I wanted to improve my physical appearance. During my teens and early 20´s I´d been super fit, but those days were long gone. At 38, I didn’t enjoy looking at a middle aged overweight guy in the mirror. The image was accompanied by thoughts of how I use to be. I wanted to get back my youthful physique. It’s not that I wasn’t concerned about my health. It’s just that other than getting fatter and less fit, I hadn’t suffered any acute illness. Sure I was heading for a higher risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke, but I hadn’t had any signs or symptoms yet. I wasn’t a smoker or a frequent, heavy drinker. I´d kept away from fatty foods and ate plenty of whole grains so I must be healthy, right? Wrong!
Once in the midst of a dinner party conversation while I was describing my work, a smart and eccentric woman interjected with a thought I’ve considered ever since. “Exercise, good eating, lots of sleep—those are what keep me healthy. Self-care, on the other hand…” she explained leaning forward smiling and stabbing the air with her fork, “That’s what keeps me sane—the so-called extras. That’s what makes the good life.” There were several empathetic and enthusiastic nods around the table. I understood what she meant, but the concept got me thinking. What exactly is “self-care”? Beyond the requisite showers, teeth-brushing and nail-clipping, beyond the eating well, exercising, sleeping and sunning, what does this mean? Naps? Facials? As I’ve considered the idea over time, I’ve come to see it in less precious and gendered terms than I think is common. Ultimately, I’ve come to believe that self-care puts a name and value to self-attunement in action.
I get a lot of questions about cheat meals. Are they allowed on the Primal Blueprint? Is there a reason someone should actively seek to eat unhealthy food from time to time? The allure of the cheat meal is obvious: you get to eat stuff that’s otherwise off-limits and extremely delicious. You get to throw caution to the wind for a night. It’s like vacation and you’re a food tourist. But are there actual benefits? Today, we’ll take a look.
As I see it, there are three arguments to be made for including periodic — that is, scheduled or preordained — cheat meals in your otherwise solid Primal eating plan.
If you haven’t heard about the minimum effective dose, a concept coined by Nautilus fitness creator Arthur Jones and popularized by lifestyle hacker Tim Ferriss in his book The Four Hour Body, here’s the simplest definition: the smallest dose that will produce the desired effect or outcome. For Jones, this was the minimum effective load, the point after which any additional resistance added to the bar would be redundant or even counterproductive to one’s strength and fitness goals. For Ferriss, the MED is about getting the most bang for your exercise and dietary buck.
A popular example is boiling water. If you want to boil a pot of water at standard air pressure, the MED is 212° F (100° C). Adding more heat is redundant and won’t make it “boil even more.”
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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I discuss one of my very favorite subjects – investing in oneself – in relation to this whole Primal thing. I explain my theory of investing, why you should invest in yourself even if you’re working a 9 to 5 and have no desire to be an entrepreneur at all, and I give the story of how I decided to quit the (well-paying and stable) rat race and make the ultimate investment in myself and my future: starting Primal Nutrition. Then I discuss the Primal-friendly start-ups in which I’m currently invested, including a really exciting new venture that I think everyone here is going to dig (accompanied by a simple and potentially lucrative contest).