Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
A little perspective is always helpful. Usually, I take it upon myself to dole it out on this blog, but I could use a wake up call from time to time.
You may have noticed that we’ve been stressing the “perfect” Primal life: eating organic, wild, free-range foods, butchering or hunting our own meat, buying food directly from local farmers, growing our own produce, etc. But in our zest for attempting to perfectly emulate the quality of food Grok might have eaten, we run the risk of scaring off newcomers. Maybe you’re a college student unsatisfied with his dorm food and the Primal Blueprint sounds pretty intriguing… but then you read posts from the last few weeks and wonder how you’ll ever find the time or money to hunt a deer or buy an entire pig from a farmer or shop exclusively at farmers’ markets. I imagine it can sound a bit overwhelming to someone who just wants to improve his or her diet and health, and lose a bit of weight. Organic produce can be pricey, growing vegetables requires space, buying from local farms requires local farms, and butchering an entire side of beef requires time and know-how that most busy people simply don’t have. Striving for perfection is admirable, and we certainly condone it, but falling short of it (which, by definition, is basically inevitable) isn’t failure. It’s just reality. As much as I stress following a near perfect Primal lifestyle, I don’t want the perfect to become the enemy of the good.
Why? Because you can do a whole lot of good for your body by strictly shopping at a regular grocery store and buying conventionally produced food. Just stick to the tried and true ways – stay on the perimeter of the store, avoid the inner aisles, always purchase whole foods – and the rest will fall into place. Eating organic is, of course, ideal, but not totally necessary; I’d say that in most cases what you don’t eat is more important than what you do eat. Cutting out grains, starchy vegetables, legumes, and refined sugars is the most important aspect of the Primal diet – and their absence will make the biggest difference in your health and body composition. Whether you eat grain fed meat and conventionally grown veggies or grass fed and organic, as long as you cut out the agrarian staples, you will lose weight and feel better.
Look, no one’s perfect. We all have our vices, and that’s okay – they’re “allowed.” (Some vices aren’t even vices at all; like dark chocolate, fat, naps, or wine.) We don’t expect everyone to follow the Primal way with the zeal of a religious fanatic; we just hope that people follow the basic guidelines while allowing for a few compromises here and there. 90% of it is making a few simple lifestyle changes – cutting out grains and legumes, reducing sugar intake, getting daily exercise (in a pattern that blends both intense and casual), getting enough sleep, eating more fat and protein. The rest is just gravy (not literally, of course!).
To those of you opting out of fried chicken and potatoes for roast chicken and greens, we applaud you – regardless of how that chicken was raised, in almost all cases you are better off.
To those of you buying veggies at the grocery store rather than at a farmers’ market, keep up the good work – in the end, a vegetable is a vegetable with the same basic nutrient profile.
To those of you working out on a nautilus machine or just with your body weight because you have no access to a barbell and weights, don’t stop – just stay active everyday and your body will show it.
To those of you curious enough to question conventional health and fitness advice (including ours!), you’ve already won – and never stop asking.
Again, I feel eating organic/wild/free-range/hunted is incredibly beneficial if you can manage, but don’t sweat it. If our focus on organic and wild food and self-sustenance is what’s keeping you from going Primal, don’t let it! If you don’t have the time or inclination to search out obscure ingredients like pink Celtic sea salt or wild buffalo rib-eyes or Peruvian red peppercorns, it won’t affect your ability to benefit from the Primal Blueprint.
Remember: any step toward the Primal life is a step in the right direction.
Questions for readers:
What do you think? Where on the spectrum of “Primal” do you fall? Would you agree that going Primal can be done in baby steps, or is going Primal an all-or-nothing proposition for you? Do you let perfection get in the way of making good choices? Hit me up with a comment and let me know your thoughts. Thanks, everyone!