An Open Letter to Kids and Teens (and Infant Prodigies)

In light of the recent release of Paleo Girl – a new Primal book that helps teens navigate the crazy world of flawed dietary and fitness advice, and get a jump start on healthy living – I’m republishing this article I originally wrote and published in December 2011. If you want the next generation to grow up in a healthier world, share this article with your friends and family. Let’s give the young adults in our lives the knowledge they need to be successful!

Dear youngsters,

You’re going through some difficult times, no doubt. I’ve been in your shoes before. I’ve been a kid dealing with basically all the same stuff you have to contend with. I’ve been there.

Your hormones are probably (depending on age, gender, and exposure to attractive members of opposite/same sex) either raging, simmering, fomenting, budding, and/or swelling.

Your legs and arms may be growing at disproportionate rates, leaving you feeling like a stranger in your own body.

That cute new guy whom you planned on eventually marrying has a funny last name, which just won’t work with the names of the kids you’ve chosen.

You just discovered the Beatles, and you totally want to tell everyone about it, but they’re all into top 40 stuff. You just can’t relate.

Your opinions on everything, who your best friends are, your relationship with your parents, and your post-high school plans change rapidly from day to day to day. And not superficial changes, but real, soul-rending ones.

Everything’s in flux, but (or ergo?) everything’s exciting. Everything’s the end of the world, or the start of something new and magnificent. In short, you’re young, the world is big, and you want to make the most of it all.

But I have a suggestion for you. It’s a suggestion that I wish I would have read on a computer somewhere when I was a kid (of course, that would have required me waiting an hour for Al Gore to patch me through on the ARPANET on a computer the size of a room):

Consider going Primal. Don’t wait until you’re old, hurting, and full of regrets to seize control of your health. Take it from someone who did wait until he was old(er) and hurting to conquer his health issues. You don’t want to wait. If you do, you’ll still likely make it, but you’ll miss out on valuable time.

I’m not even going to say you have to go 100% hardcore Primal – although it certainly wouldn’t hurt. I’m just saying it would be a fantastic idea for you to become aware of this stuff while you’re still young and on the cusp of the prime of your life.

The way I see it, if you don’t, you’re squandering a golden opportunity to extend the prime of your life through, well, the rest of it. Right now, I feel like I’m at my best. I honestly do. Mentally, emotionally, physically, professionally, I’m at a place where I wouldn’t trade places with myself 20 years ago. I was fit, doing triathlons, coming off of a strong career as a marathoner, but I was missing true health. Thanks to going Primal, I’m better than ever.

Now, think of what I just said. I’m 58. I’m probably older than your dad. I’ve lived over half a century, and yet I can:

Keep up with guys younger than half my age in high intensity Ultimate Frisbee.

Hike for twelve hours on an empty stomach.

Produce pretty decent content for a popular blog on a daily basis.

Write books and develop supplement lines that people actually buy and seem to really like.

Pass incredible quality time with my beautiful wife whenever I want.

Take a day off just to relax with the family if I so desire.

Spend half the day stand up paddle boarding.

Take my shirt off without feeling self conscious about my sagging gut and man-boobs.

Bound up flights of stairs because it’s easier and less time consuming than walking up them and scoff at escalators.

Feel mentally “there” and “on” at all times (okay, maybe the morning coffee helps in this regard, sometimes).

The thing is, these aren’t magical or fantastical accomplishments. I think these are extremely basic things any human should be able to expect out of themselves, albeit with minor variations. Not everyone is going to blog or play Ultimate, but everyone should be able to find creative satisfaction and engage in physical activity whenever they want without worrying out getting injured, something hurting, or fatiguing too quickly.

And I’m just some old dude who made a ton of mistakes early on and paid dearly for them… and I’m still doing pretty darn good. I’m not the only one, either. Many, if not most, of our success stories on this blog come from people who came back – better than ever – from poor health caused by making the wrong choices based on the wrong information in their younger years. Learn from their and from my mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourself.

Just imagine where you’ll be at 58 if you stay abreast of this health and fitness and nutrition and stress stuff starting from an early age. Just imagine how ahead of the game you’ll be, and stay for as long as you want.

Honestly, though? There’s a little selfishness going on here, too. I’m convinced that the earlier you commit to a Primal lifestyle, the greater the rewards later on in life, and I really want to see it happen. I know we’re never going to get anything close to a big study on the Primal lifestyle funded to test this idea out, but if we can convince a host of youngsters to start young – and stick with it – I think we’d see some remarkable things happen.

No, I’m not talking about forging Olympians or NBA stars or anything like that, necessarily. I’m referring to the promotion of a generation of healthy, happy, robust, fit, attractive, and most importantly of all, self-sufficient people forging their own paths toward health and wellness. I’m imagining a world where doctors flourish as the skilled technicians they are, meeting acute challenges without having to focus so much on the chronic stuff that they’re often unprepared to handle and their patients are unwilling to handle. Where people take responsibility for their own health, and it’s not a struggle or an ordeal, but rather just second nature. Heck, maybe it’ll even be a generation for whom this Primal stuff isn’t so crazy at all.

So, teens, tots, children, whoever (heck, even parents) – give it an honest shot. You don’t have to give up hanging out with friends or even grabbing pizza after a game sometimes. Embrace the 80/20 principle and just learn to make the right choices most of the time and understand that humans don’t come broken out of the box. That even though observing the greater population at large might lead you to the opposite conclusion, people are by and large born primed for excellent health.

Now go. Get healthy while you’re still healthy, while you’re still unbroken. It’s always easier – and more effective – to keep a new knife sharp than to restore a chipped, rusty, neglected old one.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and please share your advice with the younger amongst us in the comment board below.

Learn More About the Brand New Book Paleo Girl and Grab Your Free Gifts While the Limited-Time Offer Lasts

TAGS:  Aging

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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