Meet Mark

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...

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February 10 2010

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

By Mark Sisson
196 Comments

Yesterday I shared the desire to “look good naked” among my reasons for living Primally. A few readers seconded the logic. Though the point was in good fun, it wasn’t in jest. At 56 and counting, I happily take pride in my appearance. Although there’s a lot more to my life and self-confidence than appearance, I enjoy looking as dynamic as I feel. Although some might see the sentiment as vain, I’ll wholeheartedly stand by it. Although some might cry vanity at any focus on appearance (like my top ten admission), the wordsmiths say it’s more accurately “excessive pride” in one’s looks. But then, is one person’s perception of “excessive” the same as another’s? Is it a matter of kind, degree, or aim? We might balk at someone’s attention to perfect clothes or hair, but what about the same dedication to a great body?

Here in our MDA corner, we tend to focus on the strength, vitality and health parts of the PB. The Primal Blueprint book is similarly directed. I’d venture to say, however, that in the midst of these higher aims, all of us still want to LGN (look good naked). Are we all vain? Are we, in fact, hiding behind the façade of health and wellness when all we really want is to admire our incredible reflections in the full-length mirror while we dance around in our skivvies?

I think many of us would simply put that pleasure in context: health first, appearance – well, a welcome but secondary motivation. But what about others in our community who would put looks squarely if not solely on top? They might be as committed, meticulous, and enthusiastic as a PBer working his/her way off insulin. Would any of us begrudge these folks their choice to view the PB chiefly as a means to an aesthetic end? And for our collective self-inquiry, are we entirely honest about our own regard for the aesthetic benefits?

Strong Woman

The truth is, some of us might cringe at any “ripped” or “shredded” talk, putting it in the same jokey category as “buns of steel.” For some with a more traditional, modest style, the language can feel embarrassing or even unseemly. In fact, many people have felt at home with the PB because we talk about this aspect (and these images) relatively infrequently. But for many of us, particularly those who spent time in the bodybuilding or other hardcore fitness realm (and maybe still keep one foot in that arena), the language rings true and feels richly motivating. We might relish each subtle uptick in leg muscle tone. We might be gratified by the graceful lines of a lean, taut torso. We might take significant pride in the developing curves of our shoulders and arms. We love what the PB does for our body composition, allowing us to hone and maintain the attractive, “cut” physique we’ve always aimed for.

A great body reflects great health, you might say. The end result of the PB, of course, encompasses both benefits – whether we intend it/appreciate it or not. Six-pack abs can comfortably accompany a good glucose reading. A tight caboose can be the perfect complement to healthy blood pressure or resting heart rate. The fact that the PB offers serious aesthetic advantages doesn’t diminish its credibility as a health paradigm. Just as we all settle into our own Primal practice, maybe we all carve out our own vantage point in the Primal Blueprint rationale itself. There’s room in the tent for all of us – wherever we’ve chosen to place ourselves.

So, is looking good reason enough to do the PB? Absolutely, I’d say. More power to anyone so intentioned. Nonetheless, don’t expect to see the health news and commentary dry up here any time soon. The pursuit of wellness and vitality will always be the heart of the Blueprint and MDA, however it dovetails (or doesn’t) with more “outward” achievements. Funny thing, that old beer ad comes to mind now – the one with two sides shouting at each other in a competition between “tastes great” and “less filling.” A tongue-in-cheek but apt comparison, I think. In the Primal Blueprint realm, isn’t it great you don’t have to choose?

What’s your take on the aesthetic pursuit of the PB? Where would you say you are on the appearance-health spectrum in your Primal commitment?

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196 thoughts on “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall”

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  1. Because Gork couldn’t give his potential mate a blood panel, looks would be the only way he or she could judge a good mate. The outside does reflect whats going on inside.

    1. i have seen small dudes be stronger than bigger dudes on a regular basis.

      1. Large sarcoplasmic muscle development is generally considered far less attractive (and most definitely *is* far less functional) than dense, myofibril muscle development. A tapering athletic physique is universally attractive among humans, indicating that this form has the greatest innate value for our species’ traditional survival niche.

        1. Bruce Lee and Arnold both look amazing and are inspiring.

          I just want to look like me, an authentic expression of my unique genes.

          Since going primal I am less worried/concerned about appearance but I appreciate all the compliments I get.

    2. Mark

      More pictures of you,please.Looking at them makes me feel….primal…

  2. In primal land way long ago, I would think that Grok would have a lot of body fat in case famine set in.

    The desire for no body fat seems to me to be quite anti-evolutionary, actually. In a famine, those with little body fat will die first.

    1. A fatter Grok couldn’t provide for his family, which is why his mate would never select a fat Grok to be her one life’s partner. A slender more muscular Grok would attract the more desired female mate. However, your point about body fat being good for famine is true. If you look at what is attractive, the ideal woman’s body composition is generally about 10% higher than the ideal man’s, judging by what general society believes is beautiful. The reason why Grok finds a bit more body fat more attractive is that even should there be a famine during pregnancy, Grok’s mate would be able to carry his offspring to term.

      1. let’s make a distinction here. it’s one thing to be 50 lbs “overweight” and quite another to be within a healthy weight range but still not “ripped.” i think survival potential is increased if someone has a bit of fat above their “ripped” state, but is still well within their “normal” body fat range.

      2. Actually, there have been several periods of time (as well as geographic locations) during which more body fat has been seen as more beautiful, and definitely more attractive in a partner.

        These times and places have been where the “extra body fat” might put a man up to 20% or more, and indicate that he is wealthy enough (or a good enough hunter) to eat more than he needs.

        In Fiji and the surrounding islands, the ruling classes have always been huge – marriages were made based on physical size in the royal family, not on royal bloodlines. The women are typically around 6’3 and 250+lbs; the men even larger. They are seen as beautiful (though I highly doubt you would agree).

        Looks are inherently cultural, and in almost every culture, the looks that are preferred are the ones that require more time and effort to acquire. They display a level of wealth that indicates that the person can afford to waste hours each day on their appearance.

        Heck, even in America in the 70s, women were advertised products to put weight on – google “wate-on” or even just “70s weight gain ads” if you want to see some. Cultural bias is incredibly changeable, and assuming current fashions are eternal is… somewhat foolish, shall we say 🙂

    2. Why would humans require famine survival traits that no other carnivorous species requires? Big cats, wolves, hyenas…none of these animals have significant body fat under any conditions other than domestication.

      1. Maybe there’s more to it than famine survival. How about cold weather (or the Ice Age for that matter?) All those other critters have fur to help them with keeping warm.

        Presumably there’ll be some famines during cold weather as well, assuming one lives in an area with severe cold. I don’t see a lot of skinny polar bears.

        1. Bears in general do appear a bit “fluffy” but take away their loose fitting hide and thick fur and there is hundreds of pounds of lean muscle. Not much fat really (one reason bear meat is some of the most “gamey”). Add to that the fact that humans lost their fur and grew a brain. We use our smarts to survive cold. The ability to hunt other animals and use their warm furs as well as make a fire were far more attractive to potential mates.

        2. I think body fat in women is more about estrogen production. The two are directly linked, and if you do not have enough estrogen, then the natural cycle is interrupted ie. no reproduction.

    3. I don’t think we need that much body fat. You’d die of vitamin deficiencies before you used up even a fraction of it.

  3. It’s aboslutely not ‘vein’ to care about how you look. That’s something insecure people think/say as a copout for their lack. This life should be more of a hobby, you do it just for fun. Getting ‘ripped’ is a freaking fun hobby and I’d recommend everyone to take it up.

  4. Quickly put me down in the category of “there’ no crime in wanting to look good!”

    I do believe there is a lot to be said for what’s inside a person’s heart and mind; definitely don’t get me wrong there. But as a society of materialism, whether we want to admit it or not, that is what we are.

    What’s the first question we might ask someone at a social gathering – “so what do you do for a living?” We’re sizing up one another right off the bat. “What kind of car do we drive and what kind of house do we own (or seek to own!)?” Whether we like it or not, we are judged by what we do and how much we make. We may really love our jobs, but the end result is often the dollars we make from that job – an ends to the mean.

    Taking pride in one’s appearance is no different. Eating primal, knowing the food you take in is healthy and helps you to live a longer life is awesome. But also knowing it makes you look the best at the local pool is also very rewarding.

    Having a great job that makes great money is a large part of the American Dream. So why then should eating good and looking great be any different? Looking great reinforces you to eat well just as making lots of money (usually) makes you more satisfied with your job. Where’s the problem here?

    Not only does looking healthy translate into higher self-esteem, it also speaks about your character. By taking care of yourself and looking fit, it can show others you are responsible, hard-working and active.

    To quote Robert Schuller, “The me I see is the me I’ll be.” I have to admit that when I’m at the gym, the me I see who is lean, more muscled and fit is much more appealing than the me I was. Any naysayers can call me vain if they like, but chances are they’re unhappy. And guess why…

    1. You hit this one square on the head, jpickett! I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

    2. I personally think someone who does a job they feel passionate about is more attractive than someone working a job just for a fat paycheck, but maybe that’s just me.

    3. I agree with everything said, except that the American Dream in my opinion is not about getting a good, well paying job. Ownership is the American Dream, Free enterprise is what this country was founded on! Eating great and looking good is awesome though

  5. I can’t say that looking good isn’t important for me. My main priorities are feeling good and being strong/mobile and flexible. While looking good isn’t vitally necessary it’s still great to see a pleasant reflection in the mirror. 🙂 It can cheer you up and make you feel better.

  6. I started living more Primally because I wanted the health benefits, but danged if I don’t want to look good, too! Just starting, so the looking good part will take some time, but it IS one motivation.

  7. Hi, Mark
    Posting that “Stuff I read…” page was a huge service to the paleo community.
    On topic here, I totally agree about the (added) value of looking good. I started eating paleo/high fat to deal with my metabolic syndrome problems, and was very pleasantly suprised to note that I’d incidently lost 20 pounds. Not “dieting” – I’ve never counted a calorie in my life. The thing is, after about the third time a doctor or an aquaintance looked at me and said “What did you do?” I began to appreciate that instead of being just an ugly old man, I am now an ugly old man who looks good. (relatively, of course. I’m Art De Vany’s age.) It’s a big psychological lift, and adds a lot to the overall effect on health and probably longevity. Fortunately, it’s in addition to, not instead of! In any case, good post. Nuthin’ wrong with lookin’ gooood.

  8. Looking better is a very nice side effect of living a primal life. Still, I try to keep my focus on health and performance first. As hard as we may work to avoid it, age will take its toll on our appearance. If we put too much stock into how we look, it can be very easy to become discouraged as we get a bit older. At 52, I’m feel like I’m still progressing rather than regressing, but I know at some point, the inevitable will begin to occur.

  9. I have always said that a beautiful physique comes as a by-product of excellent health and fitness, and I’m sticking by my guns – no pun intended 🙂

  10. Looking good without a shirt on boosts confidence.. Nothing wrong with setting a goal based on good looks. Obviously, it shouldn’t be your only goal, that would be vain.

  11. As a fat guy, I’d be lying if I said that appearance isn’t a part of my motivation. But there’s a lot more to it than the mirror. I like that under my fat I can feel muscles beginning to form. Not for the sake of being “ripped,” but for the sake of becoming more of a functioning animal. Appearance is a byproduct of becoming that animal, but a pleasurable one.

    That being said, I look at my 230 pound body in the mirror and give my best Freddie Prinze, “Looking Good!”, because I remember the look of the 296 pound body. Most people who see me naked would say, “Eeewwww.”

  12. Some mistake it for vanity, but it’s really the well-earned pride of the sculptor!

    Of all the benefits to going primal, the most deeply motivating has been watching my ab muscles become visible for the first time in life. That completely shattered my concept of what was possible with my body. Now that little muscles are popping out all over, I feel like I’ve crossed a psychological Rubicon over which I will never again retreat.

    After a month of PB, the mirror provides amazing proof that our DNA is not a set of handcuffs, but a treasure trove of potential waiting to be unlocked.

    Carbs or abs? An easy decision once you’ve tried it!

    1. I love your post! The analogy of one being a sculptor, and Carbs or Abs… great thoughts!

    2. Cheers to unlocking potential, the potential of the beauty of our Nature. In the extremes I have exhibited “LGN”=Looking Good Naked” & “NWTLWN”=Not Wanting To Look When Naked…
      I found the courage to reveal my outer beauty when I focused on clearing the confusions and false ideas that were not empowering me within. My body is a reflection of my Spirit’s ease. I could see in 70 extra pounds of fat I forcefully added to my former fashion-model frame that fat and depressed were unnatural, yet in the situation I found myself in they were survival tactics at that time. I moved far from toxic outer influences, left sugary disaster-foods at the stores. I listened within, and there it was…my true health, true beauty & a joy that can only come from living Universal truths, for me. Just beginning Primal exploration recently after 25 yrs wellness dance, loving the community here, the feeling of being wellfed, inspired artistically, and sweetly energized. My heart is happy. People keep telling me — twice in a row– “you really are glowing.” I can feel it, so looking good starts with self-care for me today.

  13. This is a really great topic! After lots of hard work, my body comp is finally healthy, but my vanity compels me to want to get leaner.

    On the vanity to health spectrum NOW, my primary goal is to get leaner for aesthetic reasons BUT when push comes to shove — when I want to skip a workout for a lame reason or eat something that’s not good for my body — the health motivation takes over.

    I find it much easier to stay true to eating well and training for health reasons — but my emotional motivation is that I want to look good naked.

  14. I believe that every single man and woman who is not a professional athlete exercise and eat healthy for the sole reason of looking better naked. Never before have I met someone who exercises or eats healthy to improve their health. People don’t want to admit it, but everyone does workouts and eats healthy for this one exclusive reason with health improvements being a nice side benefit.

    1. I’d have to disagree. I think there are plenty of non-professional athletes out there who eat healthy and exercise from motivations other than looking good naked. I believe its a combination. For the most of us who are not professional athletes, we might still compete in sport activities and want to excel at what we do, in whatever level of competition we compete in, or want to reap the benefits of eating healthy and exercising for health reasons such a high cholesterol and such. While I’m not negating that looking good naked is a motivation factor, it is definitely not the sole factor.

    2. I would also disagree. Here’s the perfect example – what about someone doing physical therapy? Isn’t physical therapy at its essence just working out? Obviously its very targeted, but lifting weights is lifting weights. This is very much exercise for a purpose other than vanity.

      And then what about a guy I worked with a while back who had a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery, and so he quit eating fast food and started eating a lot more veggies. Again, this is someone eating better for reasons other than vanity.

      Of course there are people who eat better and exercise solely for vanity, but people’s reasons vary greatly.

      1. Actually, physical therapy is much more than “just working out”. Sure, there are targeted exercises in some rehab programs, but physical therapy spans a wide range of treatment from pain relief, motor control reahb, gait training and overall functional training, and physical rehabilitation for a number of conditions that affect physical functioning (stroke, TBI, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, etc.)

    3. You can’t have met many people then, because a lot of people exercise and eats healthy to improve their health. Understand that when I say ‘health’, I’m not talking about avoiding heart disease or cancer in twenty years, no. I’m talking about being able to eat a meal and not being plagued by heartburn for hours. I’m talking about being able to sit comfortably, lie comfortably, stand and not feel like your feet are on fire. I’m talking about having enough energy to survive the day and not having to take ten different medications. These things are worth much, much more than good looks.

    4. Agree Keith. Health is just the justification that protects us from sounding shallow. Its really all about wanting to look good.

    5. I think it is the reverse for me. I am mid 40s female and was never athletic or strong. It is just getting too crazy at this point – I am a weakling and I’m tired of it.

      I stopped eating carbs and sugar because of an intestinal imbalance which was miserable. I started this whole thing three months ago because I felt terrible.

      I want to feel good. I want to be strong. I want to play with my grandkids when they come. I want to have an active, limited pain and illness life with my husband after my kids are gone. We have four, the youngest is 12 and I’m telling you I am planning for the season ahead with great anticipation.

      At my age, for me, it’s more about all of that, than my look. Today my massage therapist said, “you lost weight, and you look lean. I can tell you’ve been working out.”

      How gratifying, and she would know!

      Sandra

    6. How do you explain amateur and rec athletes who choose a form that’s functional for their sport over one that’s conventionally “hot” then? Power lifters, et al?

  15. I’m one of the folks who spent a couple years on the low-fat/low-calorie/high-exercise bandwagon chasing after a lean look. And guess what? I got it. I was thin, had muscle definition, wore short-shorts with pride. I had a pretty good ego on me about it too. I thought I was hot stuff.

    But that kind of lifestyle takes its tole. I was thin, but I was miserable. I fit in skinny jeans, but I had regular bouts of depression and rage, plus massive sugar cravings. I looked great in a bikini, but inside I felt like I was falling apart.

    So I switched to real foods and gained some weight. Still not overweight, but no where close to where I was. After a while I tried going in for a more primal, low-carb diet. It was great for about 6 weeks, lost a couple pounds (though nowhere near what I thought I should for eating so well), then suddenly I turned into my formal emotional-wreck self, with caffeine and sugar cravings off the chart. *Not* a desirable side effect.

    I raised my carbs back up to normal moderate levels (like 150/day), and gained more than I lost just from eating normally. But I feel 100x better, no sugar/caffeine cravings, way more emotionally stable.

    So I’m trading the super-lean look for a more average weight and a much better sense of well-being. Right now I just don’t feel like I can have both. Maybe in the future I’ll be able to have my cake and eat it too (not literally), but until then I’d rather have health than just look good without health.

  16. As a young woman who has spent way too much time since adolescence obsessing over being slim, and taking some unhealthy routes to get there, I am putting much more stock into my health. After frustrating times seeing doctors and nutritionists, I finally found my way out of conventional wisdom and the way to real health. I still want to achieve certain goals in shaping my body, but I won’t take good health for granted anymore, and really want to send this message to the men out there: appreciate all the beautiful women who make the effort and take good care of themselves yet still don’t have what it takes to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.

    1. It’s not the man’s fault we want attractive women. Men, do NOT apologize for desiring physically attractive women! Attraction is NOT a choice. We are naturally drawn, dare I say COMPELLED to want to be with the “sports illustrated” girls you mock, because genetically speaking they SCREAM health. Our instincts draw us to want to procreate with someone who has a chance of actually producing a healthy baby. I for one REFUSE to apologize for that drive in me. I want to date hot women, because my genes compel me to! You say shallow, I say superior survival-of-the-species instinct.

      1. I’m not faulting men for their desires. You have no reason to apologize for liking what you like. You misread me perhaps. I did not call men shallow for their desire for attractive women. I do not mock those super hot swimsuit models. I admire them and don’t mind that they give me something to strive for.
        BUT, in these modern times, I’d hope that men have evolved enough to override their instincts to appreciate the female who eats well and has a strong toned body, over the one that’s merely aesthetically pleasing. For all you know she might subsist on a diet of burgers and fries.

        1. I agree Natalie. And so does my husband. He looks at the skinny girls, and he understands the ‘instinct’ business, but he also knows that he has evolved from the primal thought patterns and cares more about a woman being healthy and happy than anything else. Before you think that I’m saying this because I am deluded into thinking this way about my husband because it makes me feel more secure – I am one of the skinny ones who would look good on a sports magazine (providing they replaced my head with someone elses :). But here is where I agree with Elizabeth. My health is not so great. It is why I am now starting the primal diet in the hope to find good health. My husband also wants me to find good health, fitness, and be happy. He does not care if I no longer look the way I do now in order to achieve this.

      2. Just FYI, even the healthiest, hottest women may not be as fertile as you assume.

        1. I agree. Most of those models are chain-smoking, less than healthy women.

        2. Yeah, I agree. As a teen I was culturally conditioned to be attracted to those types of women/girls but now that I have some more intuitive sense in me I do not find them attractive. It is in fact kind of repulsive if you see a woman so thin you suspect they are missing their period.

        3. This!!!

          And I personally had wrestled with the idea that I needed to get down to 120 pounds before trying to have a baby… but then when I got pregnant at 130 pounds and quickly lost 8 pounds due to nausea and food aversions?
          Well, let’s just say I’m glad I had 8 pounds to lose!!! If I had been at significantly lower body fat who knows – maybe I would’ve lost my baby because my body wouldn’t have been able to provide for it while I wasn’t eating well.

      3. I’d argue that male attraction to the emaciated waif with massive breasts is manufactured, and rather recent. Give me a woman with hips, more (m)ass on the lower body, and a decent amount of cushion. Makes for more viscerally pleasing intimate time, better overall health, and greater fertility.

      4. Dude, if the women in Sports Illustrated “SCREAM health” to you, then you haven’t been around many healthy women. And that wouldn’t be surprising, since girls and women are taught that those skinny (not strong or fit) models are what they should aim to look like. Those models are classic examples of “skinny fat”.

        On a slightly different note, I agree with Mark and others on the point that vanity often plays a large role in our motivation to eat well and exercise. But for women in particular, the link between the two is super important. When women – most women, anyway – begin to get truly fit (strong, fast, agile) with proper training and diet, their bodies change, and not necessarily (and not often) into the skinny supermodel image. Yet, they for the first time begin to love their bodies. They may even weigh more than they have in the past, be bigger in some places (though smaller in others) and enjoy it because they’ve finally learned to value what they can do and how their bodies perform more than how they look. It’s a big aha moment that I’ve seen many times.

  17. While improved health and vitality are great and all, it’s not usually what keeps my hand outta the cookie jar.

  18. I totally look better naked – who looks good with bathing suit strings tied around your hips or tank top straps digging into your shoulders anyhow? Unless you’re really ripped, everyone is going to have some “done lap” when it comes to lycra (because lycra doesn’t lie!)

    I wasn’t wholly uncomfortable walking around a nudist resort for the first time a year ago, but since dumping 25 pounds on PB, I definitely fall in the “average” category now. I’ll take that! I’ll also take that i’m still losing weight without having time to do anything much physically because of my seasonal job.

    The great thing about PB is you absolutely know what food is going to cause you grief and it’s up to you whether you decide to put it in your mouth or not. For me this is so much better than doing some Pound Peekers program, writing down points and wondering WTF happened during a week where I gained weight and didn’t eat all my points.

    But in all, i really am doing this for my health – nakedness is just a benefit! 🙂

  19. Where you mention people calling it “excessive pride,” I first read it as ‘expressive’ pride, and thought “oh, that’s maybe a nice way to put it,” before realizing you meant that as a negative view people have.
    It’s not actually what you meant, but maybe it would be a new take on how to look at it. One should have some amount of pride in themselves, and by making efforts to take care of yourself, you coiuncidentally end up looking good, and so you end up inadvertantly silently, outwardly expressing pride in yourself by what is visually seen of your body. (That got a little verbose there). Anyway, I thought I’d share my accidental mis-read with you, because I thought it might be kindof appropriate in a more positive way.


    BTW, I am not actually a PBer yet, and have never posted before. I actually just heard about this lifestyle when the Hunter-Gatherer guy was a guest on the Colbert Report recently. I was interested, visited his site, which led me here, and have been reading through all your articles for the last couple of days, trying to get this all figured out so that I might attempt starting the blueprint in my own life soon. So though I’m not an official member of your circle, I hoped my little comment and way of looking at it might at least be slightly beneficial or encouraging to someone… and I’m really intrigued by what I’m learning here so far. Hopefully soon I can be a more active participant.
    Thanks, and Happy Day 🙂
    -Krystal

      1. Thank you! I look forward to hanging around as I learn more and work my way through it.

  20. It’s funny because when I go out to eat with people they see me eat twice as much as they do yet I’m only 5’10, 145lbs and they freak. They ask how I do it and I say well I was blessed with a naturally fast metabolism, but look at what I am eating, and look at what you’re eating.

    And of course who isn’t proud of their hard earned abs? I know I am, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Do I walk around all day without a shirt on? No, because there’s a difference between being proud and flaunting, but I’ll gladly show you and tell you how I do it.

  21. Mark:

    I have to register my disappointment. I came over here fully expecting a not-work-safe post…well, at least for the fairer gender. 🙂

  22. “While the animal is anesthetized, the upper brow and ear are smeared with rouge. Upon awakening, the animal is exposed to a mirror. Experimenters observe whether the mirror occasions species-specific social behavior. If the animal instead investigates his or her body and touches the rouge-marked location, such behavior is interpreted as evidence of “self-awareness.”

    When I wake up in the morning, I like to stand in front of the mirror and check out my muscles. It’s not so much fun looking in the mirror after a night of Neolithic binging—the little vasularity I’ve developed starts to get swallowed in a layer of fat. Yuck. I’ll take my self-awareness with a side of pride, thank you.

  23. I’m really happy for the health and if health was not part of this lifestyle there is no way that I would put my health in jepordy for good looks.

    However my gradual and consistant weight gain was my primary reason for going primal. I am happy that I’ve now lost almost 20lbs in two months, and that I’ve backed off the ledge of having to buy a new wardrobe. I’m happy that I can wear and be comfortable in shirts that I’ve not worn in a year or more. But there is a line where pride turns into arrogance, and dedication turns into idolatry. Same way that an occasional glass of wine can become abuse. What determines that boudnary? My answer won’t be welcomed 😉

  24. Go vanity! Motivation need not be organic in nature. If looking better gets folks thinking then I for one think it should be embraced.

  25. After years of being overweight, yes, I do want to look good naked when I reach my goal weight, in addition to enjoying optimum health and energy. There is no shame in wanting to look good. Vanity is when we put that pursuit above all others, which I don’t.

  26. I am relatively new to the PB but I really do think that both health and appearance tend to walk hand in hand to some degree. Dedication to a cleaner and more fit lifestyle is bound to bring about positive changes in both health and appearance.

    I focus on the bigger picture of continued dedication to becoming more and more primal and the results will manage themselves.

  27. I would LOVE to LOVE walking around completely naked and feel good about my body! I have been regularly exercising for almost one year in April. I have lost 15 lbs and would like to lose at least 10-15 more. I really focus on my legs with weights and cardio, but I still have ripples and dimples on my thighs and bottom. I have shrunk in inches, but would love to lose the ripples. ANy suggestions? I will keep at the exercising because it makes me happy! I have been 75-150 carb primal since Jan 18th with maybe three cheat days! Just wondering if my body will totally one day transform or will I always be bumpy?? 42 years old 4 boys and don’t want to be fat and ripply!!

  28. Great post.

    We cannot forget the innate human instinct to appreciate aesthetic beauty. The art in architecture is essential for the development of humanity — otherwise the entire world would still live in mud-huts and conditions of near-anarchy.

    I appreciate visual beauty, in a building, in a painting, or in the human body.

    Best,
    Johnny

    1. I think “mud huts” can have beautiful architecture- certainly nicer looking than your average too close together/all alike/low quality housing complex. I think Grok would have more appreciation for “mud huts” and anarchy (small family groups) than for housing developments and our corrupt corporate controlled fake democracy.

      1. In fact, I would argue that the mental health, humanizing, and low stress benefits of social anarchy (what all hunter gatherer societies practice) should be an integral part of the primal blueprint.

        1. What I learned in my poli sci classes (whether true or not) is that tribal societies are not anarchistic; they exhibit what political scientists call a “fused society.”

          What this means is that there is no separation between church, state, and home. Religion (usually animistic for a tribal society) and government and home life are so interconnected that they cannot be separated. The notion of “personal privacy” is nearly non-existant.

          This is about as far opposite from anarchy as it gets.

      2. OK, I agree that mud huts can look better than row-like, low-quality housing complex.

        But I’ll take the architecture of a well-machined society over anarchy any day. Anarchy lowers everyone’s average life expectancy. No thanks.

        Best,
        Johnny

      3. I love this. Grok would love super adobe (calearth.org) I build these beautiful curving, arches & Earth Art & Architecture homes, domes & community gardens (on Maui now), and the first time I showed a more materially-minded, 5-star-living Soul the 16 beautiful domes and homes I’d built from earth on site they said, “Who would want a mud hut?” I was surprised. I only ever saw simplicity with infinite creativity, a dignified and community-building project for the world’s homeless and a future home I could build with my own hands to whatever aesthetic I desired — they are energy efficient using the wind and earth walls for heating and cooling. 105 in the desert, cool inside all day…Mud huts can have beautiful architecture integrating the benefits of the beauty of our Nature. Thanks for saying, Tyler.

  29. I do wonder how “ripped” Grok would be if he had an abundant food supply. Like 12 months with no lean times (which in itself of course is not natural). I wonder, because I found it ridiculously easy to drop down to about 14% (for a man) by just eating primal. And then the weight just stopped coming off completely. I’d have to go hungry at night or use I.F. days to get ANY more weight to budge. It got me thinking, that in the absence of unatural, insulin spiking foods, your body “likes” to carry a small amount of bodyfat naturally for those lean times. For me at least, if I eat all the primal foods I want, my body seems to level off around 14% bf. Healthy, but certainly not “ripped”. I’m absolutely working to get to a ripped 7% or so. But it seems like you’d have to be vigilant to stay there because your body does “want” that small cushion to survive the next famine. How long would Mark last in a famine, ya know?? I want ‘ripped’ for vanity’s sake, but for survival’s sake it’s probably not a good thing. Oh – and that female torso? NOT hot. Girls are supposed to have SOME fat. Smooth flat stomach, much sexier than “abs” on a girl, IMHO.

    1. Agreed! Evolution favors the quick, strong and durable; which wouldn’t mean ripped, six-pack abs. If you’ve ever gone on long backpacking trips you know that bulking up before the trek is essential. Grok could pinch-an-inch in autumn, no-doubt.

      I, as well prefer flat stomachs on a female not ripped.

      1. Among our best modern hunter-gatherer examples of what Paleo man probably would have looked like, the Kung San and pre-modern Australian aboriginals, body fat is typically either very small or else only barely to the point of visually obscuring some abdominal definition.

        1. A simple image search of the !Kung, Austro-aboriginals or any other HG peoples illustrates a body type drastically different from the two images Mark used for today’s post. Grok did not look like either of those images-sorry.

        2. Nonetheless, they weren’t “pinching an inch”. Most have either visible abdominal muscle separation, or barely obscured, yet still firm, abdominals. They definitely aren’t carrying around a famine-pot. Ultra-low body fat is just an overexaggeration of a very natural body aesthetic that’s hard wired into our attraction psychology.

        3. Forgive me for belaboring the difference but I still contend that these HG peoples are not “ripped”. While they’re certainly trim they’re not the fitness-models that contemporary Americans seem to dream about.

          Compare the following picture-link of Kunk women to the image above (I see an inch to pinch):

          http://fotobank.ru/image/JW01-1671.html

        4. Women are certainly adapted to carry higher body fat than males, so the female model is especially unrealistic. But I think main point of confusion with male fitness (especially the model posted here) is that abdominal hypertrophy is mistaken for ultra low BF. His body fat isn’t any lower than the average hunter-gatherer, he just spends alot of time doing weight bearing abdominal exercises, which don’t generally occur in nature.

        5. Indigenous N. Americans are/were not a good example of Grok because they had long domesticated and subsisted heavily on corn. Most were in fact very *poor* examples of physical health. The closest examples to Paleo man would have been some of the pre-colonial hunting tribes of the great plains, who were interestingly featured for their great height and general health at the Columbian Exposition Fair in 1893:

          http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/tallind.htm

        6. “Ripped” is not the adjective that comes to mind when viewing most H/G peoples. “Trim” yes, “Fit” absolutely, “Ripped” no. The fitness models that grace the covers of today’s “Health” magazines as well as the two photo-examples used above do not resemble the Ainu, Inuit, Semang, Hiwi, etc, etc. Most hunter-gatherers are beautifully healthy, slim and fit. But we find many examples of HG peoples in the 10-12% BF range not the 7% BF of the physique depicted on the splash page of this blog entry. The majority of people who work-out and “eat right” fantasize about looking like a middle-weight MMA fighter not an HG. If it were not so Mark would have not used those two images! “Grok” is a wonderful teaching tool but people don’t fantasize/seek to resemble an actual H/G; they want to look like an Olympic sprinter not an actual San.

          http://promoteafricanews.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/img_1296.jpg

        7. This is really all a matter of genetics..the level of equilibrium that an individual will reach in terms of muscle mass, sub-cutaneous fat and overall fat storage pattern. West Africans tend to be much leaner and more muscled than most sub-Saharans. Asians (and by consequence, Native Americans) tend to have much more sub-cutaneous fat, but more even overall fat distribution. I personally have very low body fat and high muscle mass just from eating and don’t need to lift weights much or do much exercise of any kind really. Natural equilibrium is a personal thing. From what we know about Grok though (Cro Magnon, Heidelberg Man, Rhodesian Man etc) is that that were more thickly boned than moderns, and had much greater muscle mass as evidenced by thick muscle attachments. His body fat remains a mystery, but if you superimpose modern HG fat levels over a well muscled body, you’re going to roughly come out with the “sprinter type” body.

    2. Hey – just been checking out fat bastard.
      I’ve been playing around with IF, going longer in the day before I eat anything. Like today, it’s almost 5pm, and the last time I ate was 9pm yesterday.

      But I’m impressed with the results you are experiencing with going every other day without eating, and your consistency. I’m inspired to try it out.

      Maybe being a woman will give me different results, but we’ll see.

      Congratulations on your achievements!

    3. In response to that last bit (and I think Darcy mentions this further down, too) I have to admit, as someone new to this idea, that woman’s torso pic also kinda scared me. If I follow this whole blueprint and prescribed exercise regimen, am I to turn out that sculpted, or can I just be lean, fit, with a smooth tummy? Because that would be preferable.

      1. You don’t need to follow the whole blueprint. I’ve had amazing improvements in my health (no more headaches, joint aches or bloating) by following the PB food plan. I’ve also lost a few pounds. I can’t do the “lift heavy things” because of some neck problems, but I do try to walk lots, sprint some, and I do Mark’s “not really abs exercises” when I’m driving around in my car. Between the few pounds lost and the “not really exercises” I can now see a faint outline of my abs, which is just fine with me.

  30. I have a questions for mark…

    What is your personal workout routine. Is it too much if i work out every day?

    Have you posted anything in the past about your workout routine? If so could you direct me to a page or a “title” of what i should look for.

    thanks

    kev

  31. While I’ve been battling that last stubborn inch of belly for over a year, I long ago decided that being healthy was ultimately more important, and that some things — carb cycling, grazing, or injecting pregnant mare’s urine — aren’t worth the risks, regardless of whether some reasonably intelligent people (Lyle McDonald, Matt Stone) recommend them.

    Part of maturity is recognizing that perfection is unattainable, while never seeking to admire its manifestations and to strive for improvement.

  32. Scuse me, ‘while never FAILING TO admire its manifestations’.

  33. I think looking good could also relate to the parenting issue from a few posts ago. When your children start puberty, they rebel against their parents, but they are very sensitive for appearance.

    I hope that, when my sons are that age, they will look at their mom and dad, and somehow get some motivation to eat and live the primal way.

    By the way, I’ve noticed that without preaching about the primal/paleo/evolutionary way, people have noticed me being in shape and ask some questions. I always say it starts with eating lots of fat. That gets their attention, as you can guess!

  34. Like Elizabeth, I had the skinny jeans and bikinis when I was younger along with the depression, rage, and never feeling that I was as good as I could be. Since 50 hit almost a decade ago, I have fought weight gain, colon cancer, fallen arches, depression, etc., etc. I found PB and EVERYTHING is getting better every day!!! I know I won’t look like I did in my 20’s, 30’s, or even 40’s, but I will be the BEST THAT I CAN BE!!!!

  35. There is no crime to like the way you look! Looking fit and trim is a result of damn hard work, discipline, and consistency. It’s certainly not an easy thing to achieve. Looking fit is in a way a reward for all that hard work.

    But one caveat here – you are not your body. You’re not what you do and you’re not what you look like.

  36. Well, I really don’t want to look like the woman pictured in today’s post, but I’d still like to see much less of myself in the mirror, that’s for sure.

    Partly out of vanity, but much more because seeing less of myself in the mirror means not just overall better health, but also that I’m not getting in my own way so much (some yoga moves are simply not possible with a big butt!), not stressing out my joints so much, physical activity in general is more fun, and clothes that fit well are easier to find. I could go on, but those are the first reasons that come to mind.

  37. As a personal trainer I started eating Primal to be an example for my clients, and also improve my health and live a healthier lifestyle. A by product of eating better was a significant drop in my body fat percentage, thus making me even leaner than I already was. I dropped from about 165 lbs to 157 lbs in about 4-6 weeks. When I eat this way I just naturally drop to where I am supposed to be, its freaking amazing. I could eat enough for two people if I wanted to, but it doesn’t matter (trust me I’ve tried it) because the weight doesn’t stay on. So I went from lean and muscular to ripped and muscular, not my goal, but I’m ok with that.

    Looking good is a great by-product of this lifestyle change, call me vain all you want, but as a personal trainer I’m also my own advertising and looking good definitely helps with that. I recommend Mark’s book to all of my clients, and 100% of my clients want to lose weight, look better, and feel better, should we fault them for wanting to look better? If looking good improves their quality of life, how is that bad? I’m slowly converting all of my clients to eating and living primal. It’s so rewarding to see the light bulb go on and see these people I care about start making progress towards their goals when they finally start eating healthy.

    Anyway, I love eating healthy, being healthy, and looking great, and I really don’t care what anyone has to say about my personal goals or any of my clients goals for that matter. Next time I am eating my great primal food I might even walk into my bedroom, take my shirt off and flex my abs while I’m eating this fantastic food! Call me vain all you want, and I’ll just keep eating, flexing, and being healthy.

  38. One of the things I like best about eating/living this way is that for the first time ever, I feel like I have control over my body fat comp. I know the course I have to take if I want to ‘get ripped.’ That’s a very exciting, empowering feeling after a lifetime of being overweight/obese and feeling like a failure because tons of cardio and an ultra-low-fat, high-carb diet that was “supposed to work” didn’t.

  39. C’mon. How will you take pride in more energy, better health, better strength, but just look past the fact that you are leaner and more muscular? A vibrant, strong, healthful appearance is just one other consequence of living primally. If anyone is embarrassed by this byproduct, why not be ignore the others as well? Our bodies are indicative of how we live and how we feel and they are as much a part of us as our energy, our emotions, or our minds. I say take pride!

  40. Looking good in the mirror is definitely a motivation to live this lifestyle, I must admit. I, like Mark, want to look as dynamic as I feel and I do! It shows outwardly how hard and dedicated I am and is a great way to advertise to others what they too can achieve.

    1. Agreed. I’ve never met anyone who wanted to look and feel bad. I’ve added 20 lbs in 4 months and dropped to just below 10% body fat. My reflection in the mirror, the way my clothes fit, and the comments people have made are the reward of how I live my life.

  41. That said. Let’s not, of course, focus on the aesthetic. That’s so 80’s. And putting too much focus on the aesthetic has led to drug use, eating problems, and lame gym culture all over the world. 🙂

  42. I do not think that it is vain. I think the mirror reflects what is working- for example- I have PCOS and struggle with acne. When I’m eating 100% Paleo (with no nuts) my face is clear and radiant. If I have a cupcake at a party and snack on some almonds at work and maybe even have ice cream after a long week, my face shows it.
    Caring about how we look is not vain, it is being in tune with our body that we are really doing what is best and listening to the feedback it gives us.

    1. Johanna, I’m curious- I myself have PCOS as well, and I’m just wondering what it is about nuts that cause you problems? Or is it something that you just know through experience? (I cut out fruit & nuts about a week and a half ago.. and half noticed a huge improvement in my cystic acne)

      -Katerina

  43. At almost 43, I’m very proud that my kids friends’ think that their dad is buff 😉

    I’m even more proud that my kids think I look better then all their friends dads.

    Looking good is big part of my primal motivation, I’m sure this will change as I mature. Happy to be shallow for now 😉

    Marc

  44. I agree! My appearance is a huge motivation for me. Matter of fact, it is what first brought me to a better way of health- and then my interest in doing the right thing and finding true health for myself took over…….I’m looking forward to my taut tummy!

  45. In my life, I have found that the degree to which many people complain about “shallowness” or vanity tends to be indirectly proportional to how good these people look.

  46. I have to admit that a big reason why I changed my habits was to look better and lose weight. But on the days that I don’t care what I look like and want to give up, that’s when I remind myself of the other improvements I’m enjoying such as reduced asthma symptoms, less bloating, no more binges, and increased energy. These benefits are a big part of my motivation also.

  47. Vanity is what drives us. We can layer up as much poetry and sophistication surrounding humanity as we like, but in the end that reptilian part of us that wants to be fruitful and multiply is going to be the root influence of all we do.

    Looking ‘better’ generally means looking fertile, resilient and capable – all things you look for in a prospective mate.

  48. I totally agree with this! Great post topic, Mark!
    hehehe…I have to admit, I *am* a fan of dancing around in my skivvies at times!! 😉

  49. Looking good as a sole reason for training might be considered excessively vain, but who can honestly say that vanity is the only benefit? When you look good, you feel your best and sure, it might be because you place high importance on outward appearance, but it’s about so much more than that.
    It’s about proving to yourself (and others I guess) that you’re capable of committing to and achieving something that many people struggle with their entire lives. It’s about confidence, about pride, about being honest enough to say ‘this is important to me and I’ll do what it takes to get there’.
    The obvious benefits of looking/feeling great naked are easily outweighed by the many many extra bonuses that such an accomplishment brings about. And it’s a pretty easy guarantee that those positive traits will carry over into other areas of your life.
    I don’t care how much someone insists they’re happy with their body – being overweight or unhealthy when you could be doing something about it sure doesn’t teach you anything about determination and consistency, and I’m guessing it doesn’t really leave much room for pride or self-belief either.

  50. I’ve never met a mirror I didn’t like!

    My goal a few months ago, just before I went PB, was to lose weight so I would feel more comfortable in my body. Going primal has increase my energy and vitality…people comment on how much better I look even before attaining my ideal body weight. Losing 30 lbs thus far has given me a huge boost in self-confidence in all areas of my life including being more comfortable with attracting the attention of the opposite sex.

    So yes, looking good naked is a huge motivator!

  51. We all want to look as best as we can. But, in general, I believe we focus too much on our looks. However, if looking beautiful or handsome is a motivator to continue looking Primal then good for you! Stay motivated by it 🙂

    There are always pluses to looking attractive… but, your character will attract identical people into your life that will make you the happiest.

  52. I think vanity is an amazing motivator.

    Does it matter that we got into it for our health, and ended up being able to shamelessly rock an swimsuit bod? Or that we started out just wanting to look our best, but ended up averting a potential heart attack in the future?

    Rhetorical Question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    Answer: Does it matter? They’re both delicious!

  53. Wow !!!!! God really knew what he was doing when he created the image of a healthy body in a sculptured body.

    Call it vanity or the desire to be healthy, maybe that was God’s way for us to give a shit about ourselves.

  54. Is a mountain lion vain? No animals have the vice, yet they are beautiful , poised,. healthy, even primal if you like. As animals ourselves, looking beautiful is a by-product of healthful practice, and I think that’s a great thing. Let’s be as beautiful as we can, but consider that no mountain lion has requested plastic surgery, and he doesn’t train to excess either

    1. Kapo – Have you ever owned multiple domestic cats? I have met/owned several who WERE vain. I have one now. She literally practices looking cute, can’t STAND to be seen until composure grooming is complete, and must have needle sharp claws. My other cat really couldn’t care less about any of the above. Oddly, the one who is by modern definition vain? Has no eating or health issues. The one who doesn’t care so much? Well, she has way more eating and health issues. So, I guess 2 points – animals CAN be vain, if vanity is focusing on “perfecting” perceived desirable traits; and that focus can also help keep absolute health higher. Really, it doesn’t matter wheather the primary goal is “health” or “good looks”. If they’re your top 2, at some point they should overlap to the point of indistinguishability. Whatever keeps you doing the right thing IS the right reason for you.

  55. Kapo, to your point animals dont’t have the reasoning abilitys humans do, hence vanity doesn’t factor in. Their primal instinct is to appeal to the opposite sex for propagation of the species.
    Bigger, faster, stronger, survival of the fittest. Evolution? Wondering, is agricultural evolution to some extent, meaning are grains in moderation really bad and are holding us back or are they part of our evolution to a better us?

  56. I will fully admit my current motivation is knowing I have to look good in a wedding dress in eight months.

  57. I’m all for looks AND skills. Aren’t looks part of a primal blueprint anyway? The most attractive peacock gets the girl, right? Animals display their colors and appearance as much as their strength and abilities through fighting or dancing so that they can be chosen to mate and produce the best offspring possible. We pick our mates based on looks first. The inner beauty is what keeps us together when the pheromones rush expires.
    So we’re demonstrating that survival of the fittest does have a healthy, necessary mix of looks and function.
    We evolved by developing a big brain, through healthy fats and animal protein. Our intelligence also matches our physical development, as we have no natural weapons (oft unnecessary in our society, and we survived thanks to our larger mammalian brains).
    We need to strive to have it all. Our intelligence guides our pursuit of a healthy, great looking body which can be skillful, artful and with abilities to match those looks.

  58. My motivation for PB is purely to perfect my body as much as I can. The health benefits are just an added bonus.

  59. Frankly, I was very healthy before I learned about primal living, both inside and out. I was already active, did a lot of strength training and HIIT, ate higher protein and lower carbs than the SA “health” diet. My doctor said that I had the best blood profile he’d ever seen. And, yes, I had 12%BF and a visible 6-pack, which for a post-childbirth woman of 40+ is not easy.

    So, why primal? Frankly, I want the abs, but I also don’t want to have to count calories like a hawk all the time to stay there. So, I guess I’m not only vain but also lazy. And that’s … OK.

    PS. To the person who claimed that he was genetically programmed to think that SI cover models are hot: bullsh*t. The anthropological record clearly shows that for most of human history, the ideal woman was downright matronly. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the upper class developed the notion that femininity = thin, and then it meant thin + no muscles. Moreover, this ideal emerged for cultural reasons, not evolutionary one: thinness was not valued because it made women more reproductively fit, but because it allowed the newly wealthy industrialist families to display their status and differentiate themselves from the working class.

    In the span of human time, today’s “ideal” of a thin woman is a mere blink of the eye. Men have no more “evolved” to be attracted to women with fake boobs and amenorrheac body fat levels than they have evolved to drink Bud and eat HFCS.

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head about the SI girls.

      But honestly, not all men like skinny and not all men like muscular or fat or tall or anything. I think as a culture and as women we need to recognize there are many kinds of beauty.

      I have 24% body fat*, mostly in the trunk, and I’m definitely hot to a lot of men. I am not debating whether a little more fat loss would be good for my health, but I am fine already. My motivation is about being stronger and faster.

      *Guys who may not know fat scales are different for men and women, 24% is comparable to 17% on a man or in the “Fitness” range.

  60. I don’t want to say I judge people who are heavy or obese. (Like someone said above, we either consciously or subconsciously size each other up.) However, in the back of my mind I say to the overweight person…”you don’t have to look like that…you can look like me…and it’s very easy”. Again, I don’t judge and I wish I could personally help everyone get fit, but it’s up to each individual to make the choice. I enjoy looking as good as I eat and feel, it’s a biproduct for the work and dedication to the lifestyle I chose.

  61. “So, is looking good reason enough to do the PB? Absolutely, I’d say”

    I can’t agree at all.
    Surely how one feels sans a mirror (mirrors…water and ice aside are a new thing in evol.)is of primary importance.
    I’ve met many folks who look fantabulous with a , from their estimation,a far less reduced quality of mind than their level of appearance.

  62. I’m guessing Grok didn’t wax or shave. Isn’t body hair part of being primal?

    1. Totally agree kevinl, it drives me mad when people expect me to shave or wax all the time.

  63. The most important thing about becoming healthier is the fact you are making a necessary change in order to improve the possibility of a longer life. Even if people workout just to look good it still is getting back to basics of being healthy and energetic. Looking good influences how you feel about yourself, your perception of what others think about you, and the way you carry yourself. Looks are a byproduct of the work we put into ourselves. The dedication required in regulating what you eat, how often do you work out, how you work out are all integral to the common goal of being healthier and creating a better inage of ourselves to ourselves. We do this for various reasons but it all comes back to living longer and maximizing our potential.

  64. Besides it is human nature to size each other up. It’s a primal thought process to look and judge other people. We do this for breeding, relationships, in case of a situation occurs where we have to use our fight or flight mechanism. It’s natural and has been this way for millions of years. Previously size mattered. The bigger someone was the more likelty they were to survive. In the early 70s through the 90s people wanted mass but now our perceptions have changed to where the lean, agile hunter/gatherer is what people strive for b/c we can adapt to various situations. We aren’t as limited due to lack of flexibility or speed.

  65. Ladies: My mom told me you only strive for a perfect body to be better than the other girls. I say, “Awesome! Whatever it takes.” PS…While you’re working to “out do” Karen, the hottie from your Yoga class that’s stealing your attention from the steamy Personal Trainer dudes, don’t forget dead-lifts. They’re GREAT for your legs and bunz. Trust me, Karen will notice and she WILL be jealous. 🙂

    Guys: Please continue thinking your beer belly is cool…it totally is. And remember, you shouldn’t care what other people think of you…so feel free to let yourself go. You only live once so their is no time to worry about eating healthily. Also, keep telling yourself that women aren’t physical creatures, that they’re only attracted to smart, funny and rich guys that make them feel good and secure. Looks don’t matter. 😉 Besides, those gym rats and health nuts are just a bunch of sissy boys anyways.

    Now…I’ll be up in the gym workin’ on my fitness and, if only the ladies and gents can follow my aforementioned guidelines, I’ll have less competition and more fish to choose from. 🙂

    But I digress…It’s not vanity and it sure a hell isn’t excessive pride or insecurity….it’s human nature. And anyone denying this simple fact is insecure or is named Oprah, struggling with weight-loss and “looking good nakedness”.

    Sorry, I’ll be pining away in front of the mirror Narcissus style thinking, “Damn, you are one lucky mirror”……and you can be a regular at home depot, replacing broken mirrors every week.

  66. John S – I think it is pretty clear we humans have become a domesticated version of the originally wild human being. Today’s humans are like a cat that is stuck in the house all day with nothing to do but eat for entertainment. By making everything in our lives so incredibly convenient, we have forgotten what it is to MOVE FOR LIFE. Unfortunately, my cats have not forgotten the need to move for life and sacraficed my furniture as punishment.

    1. Absolutely, and the consumption of grains, high quantity refined sugars and other nasties only makes the process that much worse (I know that my dogs don’t want to eat crunchy compressed bits of corn gluten and wheat middlings). I think most people miss the fact that muscle tissue is itself a plastic form of nutrition storage for both amino acids and caloric value. During famine, muscle tissue is metabolized at the same rate or greater than fat tissue. There is no need to carry around a bloated belly to survive relatively short and occasional lean periods. Humans don’t hibernate, so in the long run that kind of famine endurance would be maladaptive.

  67. Indeed. Look at the pictures in Weston Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. The people are almost always handsome. When their food is replaced with sugars and grains, they become ugly.

  68. “Being sexy is a full-time job, and there ain’t NO vacation or overtime pay.”

  69. More attractive people, all else equal, are favored in many aspects of life. Reference this CNN article http://money.cnn.com/2005/04/08/news/funny/beautiful_money/ which states that good-looking/slim people earn 5% more than their counterparts.

    But who needs studies in this department… few would choose a bulky/sickly look compared to a toned/tan/muscular look given the choice. Sure, maybe an NFL offensive lineman, but it helps their job (to a point) to be as bulky as possible! Most people have trouble with the consistent effort required to get the end result, but the PB makes it easy. The details of a motivation are irrelevant… but striving to look good naked is certainly a fair choice!

  70. To me, it’s all about addiction. Some people are addicted to foods, behaviors, thoughts and emotions that make them look “good” (totally subjective term, anyone who’s traveled knows that fat men in poor countries are the most highly sought after) and others are addicted to foods, behaviors, thoughts and emotions that make them look “bad”. My goal is to be free of these addictions period. A lot of buff, skinny people are certainly trying to relive the glory days and hang on to their 16 year old bodies while on the inside they are empty and repress unpleasant feelings through exercise, diet and looking in the mirror. They may be highly developed in terms of diet and exercise but rather retarded when it comes to emotional health. In “unhealthy” people, perhaps their interior issues are more transparent or maybe they’re actually secure enough in themselves that they don’t need to be tan and buff.

    Beauty is culturally relative (duh). My goal is to be as healthy as I can be…in all ways…and to see the beauty in all things…including the ugly, the fat and infirm.

  71. “What’s your take on the aesthetic pursuit of the PB? Where would you say you are on the appearance-health spectrum in your Primal commitment?”

    On a scale of 1 to 10, a 7 in favor of health. Your wife is my role model and inspiration. I felt depressed upon turning 40 and put on ten pounds that I’ve finally shed thanks to going low-carb. When I see your wife in a bikini, I realize it’s possible for women to look hot even into their 50s if they stay fit and lean. Aging cannot be avoided completely but it can be slowed by decades through primal living. You and Carrie are visible proof of that!

  72. Hmmmm. This was an interesting topic. I think for most of us it is seeing a picture of ourselves where we are just plain fat or the doctor keeps upping our blood pressure meds. Eventually you’ve gotta get back in balance.

    I used to think that the women on the cover of triathlete magazine looked great. Then I started to notice how thin they really were, gaunt in some cases but with good definition in the arms. They became a lot less of a role model for how I’d want to look. I want to look like a surfer girl, not a marathoner.

    The truth is that the first thing you lose when you drop bodyfat to the level of elite fitness models is your BOOBS. So, in terms of weighing in, I’d rather keep some boobs and not be a size zero in jeans with no ass either. I find it hard to believe that Grok would be in favor of a too lean woman. As Bloodhound Gang says “Hooray for Boobies!”

    You don’t want the booty to be too juicy… but just juicy enough.

    TrailGrrl

  73. Too Right! Carrie is an amazing inspiration (as is Mark). I too am 40 (and none too happy about it) and have put on substantial weight. I’m old enough to know that the health is what is truly important but I’d be lying if I said that it was my main motivation.

    I want to look great again!!!!!!!!! I want my wonderful (and fit) husband to look at me and go “Grrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!” and to glow with pride when we are out together. (He loves me and does tell me I’m beautiful but I’d like to actually believe him).

    I would no longer do something I know is truly unhealthy to achieve this but I do want to achieve it. I want to look in the mirror and be proud of what I see. I don’t think there is anything wrong or unusual or unnatural about this. I also think that if we were truly honest with ourselves most of us would realise this is a big part of our motivation.

    I honestly think that the reason I don’t look my best now is that I wasn’t valuing myself much. I think that is the reason why most people are overweight (medical conditions aside) and unhealthy. If you value something you treat it well do you not? If looking good is a by product of valuing ourselves, how can that possibly be bad?????

    PS. Primal eating hasn’t helped me lose any weight yet so I’m frustrated but still having faith, and tweaking amounts, exercise, adherence, etc. to find my best balance. Fingers crossed. I know I could lose weight with CW (I have before) but I know it will come back and I think this is a healthier way to reach my aesthetic goals!

  74. I believe it’s all about balance. There are only so many hours. Time spent on improving your looks needs to be balanced against time spent with your family, time spent improving your knowledge, time spent exercising your ability to empathise, time spent to unwind & have fun, etc etc

    Ironically the best way to live is what most people nowadays don’t have the patience for or get bored with, always wanting fastest, biggest, smallest, most expensive, highest status, etc

  75. When I was younger, it was about looks (possibly to attract a mate). Now that I’m 42, it’s about health. I want to (and expect to) live to 110, in good health.
    But, being healthy PB style means looking good. A great secondary benefit!

  76. It’s a fundamental point Mark makes and nothing wrong with it – a well honed humand body is a sight for anyone to be proud of!

    Andrea – At only 23, I think I could also agree that the balance shifts as you get older. But this is probably a relationship thing not an age thing. I remember that prior to meeting my long term girlfriend, my health and fitness efforts were definitely more looks focussed. Makes sense based on the human desire to find a mate I suppose..

  77. When I saw Mark and Carrie I was amazed. Absolutely floored.

    I did not find this sight or the principles of PB until I had been being treated by my ND for various GI issues without complete success. I decided to skip all grains and just see how I felt.

    It was instantaneous!! One of the most incredible fixes of my life. So, I started cruising the Internet to learn what I had “stumbled upon” by skipping grains, and if do so was healthy long term.

    So, I’m reading and learning and all, and feeling wayyyy better than I had in over a year, and then I saw Carrie. *I almost laughed out loud at how beautiful she is, it was that incredible.*

    What an inspiration to we older women. There’s plenty of inspiration out there for the younger crowd, but far less for us reaching upper 40’s and beyond. We start to believe that feeling and looking awful is the norm, the way it has to be.

    Carrie’s example gives mid-life women so much more to hope for. I’d love to hear from her exactly how she applies PB.

    Sandra

  78. I agree. I am also 40+ and I have had 3 children. I would love to hear from Carrie how she manages to look so beautiful. I have had major problems with my stomach wanting to stay swollen all the time. It is also the only place where fat keeps depositing if I am not constantly working out and exhausting myself. I have been on the primal diet for two weeks now and was doing well, and then all of a sudden my stomach is swollen again in the last two days (not hormonal). This never happened before I had children. I am at a complete loss as to why I am lean and muscular everywhere except when my stomach wants have have its moments that can last for weeks.

  79. I liked how I looked in the mirror *before* I started losing weight; I looked like one of those Rubenesque nudes in a Renaissance painting. I recently lost 20lbs and gained some muscle after finding a sport I love and counting calories, CW style. I still like how I look naked – different, but still good – but what’s new and what I LOVE is feeling strong, feeling those hard toned muscles under my remaining fat, and using those muscles to their capacity.
    I just found PB and I’m excited about trying it – for health, for hunger management, for strength, and for losing maybe a bit more fat – though I never want to look like the chick in that pic above. 🙂

  80. I need some help!!! Could some one tell me why Im not looseing the weight as fast as I was…Im 5’3″ and I was 191Lb now Im 173 its been 3 weeks since I went primal,Iam muscler but I still have to much body fat,130Lbs is perfect for my body type. I dont know what to do,Im only taking in abot 20 to 30carbs per day and Im working out”sprints and weights and crunches.Is this normal to stop looseing after 3 weeks?? and should I agust my diet and how??? Please some one I need help!!!

  81. As a 25 year old, who was never thin except in his childhood, looking good now and having the feeling (and ability) to do anything, just by choosing to do so, is the main reason I have started this path. Still not like the guy in the pic (i hope to be by the end of the year though), and have quite a few belly fat to lose, but still, being more attractive and healthy is my main reason. Any other person my age who says different, I would be pretty inclined to say they’re fooling themselves.