I realize that most of you probably don’t think you need a lecture. You may not need any further motivation. You’re eating good, whole foods, getting daily exercise, and things are going well. For the most part, Grok gazes upon you with twinkling, approving eyes. But what of newcomers? What of the average doughy citizen happily bumbling along in blissful ignorance, unaware that his or her dietary habits and devotion to Conventional Wisdom might actually be counterproductive to those goals implicit in all forms of life, great or small? Survival, contentedness, and prosperity. Surely he deserves a harsh check of reality.
And even Grok stumbles. Even the most zealous adherents of the Primal Blueprint falter, or even relapse. Maybe they start taking advantage of the office snack stash on a regular basis. A few Twix can’t hurt, right? (Every day? Yeah, they can.) Or maybe they swing by the drive-thru because they put off grocery shopping that week. (Enjoy your microwaved pseudo-meat product flanked by enriched flour patties and plastic cheese.) Hell, even I’ve made that split-second decision – half-out the door, bedecked in workout gear, mind dreading the pain to come – to put off exercise for momentary comfort.
There’s nothing wrong with the occasional foray into our old ways, especially if the situation necessitates it (starving on a business trip in some far-off town with nothing but fast food joints open, or taking a day off to rest an overworked body). Just be wary of man’s unique ability to justify anything. We’ll eat vegetables chips and swear they’re healthy. We’ll order a light Frappucino and convince ourselves it’s cool (never mind that sugary sweet syrup concoction coating your mouth afterward). Call it self-delusion, cognitive dissonance, or just plain lying to yourself – we all do it, we’re great at it, it’s a coping mechanism, but it’s ultimately harmful and impedes progress in the Primal Blueprint. Because once we justify and rationalize a counterproductive behavior, we’re all the more likely to continue said behavior.
“Just one more day…”
“Just this once…”
“Last time. Promise…”
Sound familiar? When you’re promising stuff to yourself and convincing yourself that the lies you’re spewing are to be trusted (and falling for it!)… it’s time to GET REAL.
Consider this, then, a wake-up call. (If you’re diligent and secure, exempt yourself – but even then, you’d be selling yourself short. There’s always room for improvement. Thinking otherwise leads to stagnation.) A wake up call to the beginners, a wake up call to our most loyal readers. Let’s even consider it a wake up call to me, Mark, to get and stay serious about eating right and working out correctly. Following the direction of our evolutionary genetics is a beautifully simple endeavor, but it takes diligence and dedication nonetheless.
Are you prepared to re-up on the Primal Blueprint? If so, these should help you maintain composure and stay the course.
Get Real Meat
Eat real, actual meat. You want a slab of beef untouched by preservatives, by antibiotics, by hormones, and by soy feed. You want a whole roasted chicken so you can crack open the bones and suck the marrow. Eat clean, wild fish and pick out the rib bones. Most importantly, don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that greasy little Slim Jim you picked up at the gas station on the way home from work that oozes slimy nitrites with every bite is real meat. Nor are, for that matter, the treated cold cuts, the bargain bin bacon that miraculously survives for months in your fridge, and that pepperoni you pick off your spouse’s pizza. Get real meat, folks.
Get Real Vegetables
Don’t eat corn (on the cob, popped, or otherwise prepared – it’s actually a grain!), potatoes (although sweet potatoes and yams are decent in moderation), vegetable tempura (don’t let that flaky, crispy batter fool you), or veggie chips (the chubby vegetarian’s best friend). And President Reagan may have once proclaimed it a vegetable, but ketchup is definitely not a good choice – it’s loaded with so much corn syrup, sodium, and other pseudo-foods that the tomato can scarcely be detected. Instead, load up on the stuff that you know to be good. Broccoli, greens of all kinds, cauliflower (mash it up for a superior potato substitute), carrots (hold the cake), peppers, tomatoes (real ones), squash, and eggplant (among numerous others) work quite well.
Get Real Fruit
And get realistic amounts of it. Fruit was a luxury for Grok, a seasonal delicacy. He wasn’t slurping sherbet-based smoothies every morning, nor was he munching on apples engineered for maximum sugar content. When you eat fruit try to stick to organic. Rather than drink juice or smoothies (albeit, a better choice), try to eat whole fruits. They’ll fill you up faster. Also go easy on the dried fruit; it’s great in a pinch and on hikes (mixed with nuts), but you’ll fill up on sugar before you notice it because it’s so concentrated. As always, berries are best.
Get Real Nuts
Lose the peanuts, the candy-coated almonds, the caramel-fudge-encrusted macadamia nuts, those clusters of candy and nuts masquerading as healthy snacks (they may have exotic spices like anise and cayenne, but they’re still covered in a fine sheen of syrup). Eat real nuts and seeds instead: almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp. And please – do not eat those dried crispy soybeans.
Get Real Fat
Though that header could be easily misconstrued, what I mean is that you need to get real sources of good fat in your diet. Avoid the processed, hydrogenated (partially or totally), trans garbage. You should be eating real animal fat (lard, tallow), olive oil and fats from avocados, eggs, nuts, seeds, and good cuts of meat (eat that crispy chicken skin!). If you’ve bought into the widespread ridiculous fear of fat in favor of artificial vegetable oils, margarines, and other disgusting lab creations, you need to get real.
Get Real About Grains
CW likes to tout grains as “the staff of life” – the foundation for the human diet. Deep down, you know better. You know that the best alternative to grains is eating real food our bodies were designed to eat. Meat, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and fats are highly superior to grains, and they don’t require loads of processing, heating, pressing, fermenting, soaking, or any other tampering just to be digestible. Get real about the Primal Blueprint, stay off the grains for a few months, and you’ll forget all about your former masters.
Get Real Workouts
The success and effectiveness of your workout depends on the enthusiasm with which it’s assailed. Don’t half ass your sprint day at 60% intensity when you know you need to be going 100%. Don’t show up at the gym when you’re supposed to max your squat if you’re not serious about it. Use these days for rest, play or some low level aerobic activity (think long walks/hikes or an easy bike ride) instead and you’ll still be perfectly Primal. Then, when you’re ready, regroup and give it your all. Otherwise, malaise or even injury can easily set in. Get real about what you’re up for, then do it! Oh, and if you’re counting your walk out to your mailbox and back as your workout of the day you seriously need to get real.
Get Real About Your Goals
First of all, get some real goals. Get out a piece of paper (or blog, or Word doc, whatever) and figure out what you’re working toward. Be honest with yourself, and don’t expect the impossible. I am a strong believer in one’s ability to control their gene expression, reprogram their body, and become a healthier individual, but you aren’t going to sprout a few more inches no matter how many reps you do or vegetables you eat.
That said, never sell yourself short. Push yourself to the limit, and don’t use common excuses – “most of my family is slightly overweight” or “my dad never was really that muscular” or “I’m too old to start over” – to avoid making changes in your life. Your ability to seize control of your life, your body, and your health is real. You just have to do it. Ewald (Otto’s identical twin) did.
I hope all of this wasn’t too harsh. Chalk it up to a little tough love follow-up to yesterday’s “Excuses” post. I think it’s important to have a call to action every now and then. And it’s not like I told you something you didn’t know. You know these are the keys to living a long, healthy life. You know eating the right food and getting daily exercise will pay dividends – today, tomorrow, and in thirty years. Don’t relegate yourself to a future of walkers, brittle bones, sagging guts (and spirits), and doctor visits, all because it was easier to delude yourself and take the easy route. Instead, get real about your abilities, about your goals, about your lifestyle, and about your body.
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.