Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

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?

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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