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...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
November 21 2017

14 Healthier Ways to Spend Black Friday

By Mark Sisson

Inline_Healthier_Ways_to_Spend_Black_FridayFor most of my life, Thanksgiving was spared the overt commercialization of the other holidays. Christmas has the gifts, Halloween the candy and costumes, Valentine’s the chocolates, roses, jewelry, and guilt—perfect avenues for commercial interests. But Thanksgiving genuinely felt different, as if it was only about getting together with friends and relatives over a crispy-skinned bird and offering gratitude for what we had and who was still with us.

These days, commercialization has crashed the party. You’ve got Black Friday. Then Small Business Saturday. Then Cyber Monday. (Giving Tuesday I can get behind.) The “Black Friday” deals on Amazon started going last week and should continue well past the holiday.

I get it. That’s how the business world works. And people have the day off. They’re up early enough to start shopping right away, since tucking away 4000 calories in a single sitting the night before probably put them to bed by nine. Most importantly, people are jonesing for some ritual to commemorate the passing of another holiday. Sacrificing one’s sleep, free time, and money to the commerce god BOGO seemingly does the trick, especially if you get a killer deal and everyone else is doing it. You get swept up in the moment—the power of the crowd, the knowledge that in every town across this great big country of ours, millions of your fellow citizens are flooding the stores in search of a good bargain.

Yet, there are other ways to connect to that feeling of unification. There are other ways to celebrate. We can form new rituals that don’t revolve around the acquisition of material goods.

Like what? What could a “Primal Friday” look like?

1. Sleep In

Seriously. You know you want to. Imagine how much better you’ll feel than the folks who dragged themselves out of bed at 4:00 a.m. Sleep is the absolute best.

2. Volunteer Your Time and Resources

Deliver charitable contributions to a local organization, or volunteer to help distribute them to those in need. Bring groceries and good old-fashioned funds to a local food shelf. Donate clothes and housewares to nonprofit stores that benefit area organizations. Volunteer for the day at a homeless shelter, community program, or animal rescue organization. Adopt a family for the holiday season and shop for them instead.

Research demonstrates a physiological benefit to our altruistic ventures (e.g. lower stress, better sleep, enhanced immune function, and reduced pain), and even it didn’t, it’s a nice, virtuous thing to do. The key is to feel genuinely emotionally invested in our volunteer endeavors. Whatever feels meaningful, pursue it.

3. Work With Your Hands

This can mean almost anything. Expand yourself and do something a loved one will appreciate. Send humorous postcards to friends. Knit or carve a gift for someone special. Make wreaths or decorative winter planters for neighbors. Whip up some Primal jerky, gorp, tapenade, sauces, or infused vodka for friends. Finally tackle that little house project you’ve been putting off. Do some fall gardening.

4. Take In a Cultural Event

Skip the throngs at the mall and head for the concert hall, local theater, or community center. Expand your horizons, and enjoy a communal atmosphere without the stampede.

5. Make a Day for Reminiscing (and Record the Occasion For Future Enjoyment)

Gather around to watch old family movies or slide shows on the computer. Tell your favorite stories of past holidays. Get a family photo taken, or videotape some play time in the backyard. It will be a more meaningful keepsake for this year’s holiday season that whatever you could’ve bought.

6. Invite the Neighbors For a Casual Open House

Doubly so if you’ve never done anything like this before and barely know their names. Sure, many of them will be chasing sales in the wee hours of the morning. No matter. They’ll be back. Throw together an informal, “post-sale” brunch or a cocktail hour spread. They’ll appreciate the hospitality and the return to a saner way of celebrating the holiday weekend.

7. Play In the Leaves

I know you’ve got some laying around somewhere nearby. Go play in them, preferably with family and/or friends. The massive leaf piles were my favorite part of fall in New England. We’d have wet leaf fights, leaf wrestling matches, leaf diving competitions (you need at least four feet of densely packed leaves to break your fall). Though if you live on the outskirts of town, or the pile butts up against the forest, beware of ticks. The little jerks love residing in dark, dank leaf piles.

8. Rake the Leaves

Playing in a pile of leaves is an exultation of the chaos of nature. There are tens of thousands of individual leaves, and they’re absolutely everywhere once you’re done. It’s fun (especially for the kiddos), but then you also have to restore order by raking them up. Another option is to mow the leaves and start a compost pile.

9. Do a Cold Plunge or Cold Shower

Exposing your body to cold water is a reset button on just about everything. It also boosts immune function and mood.

10. Train Outside

Hitting the gym is great, but why not do something different, somewhere different? Run some sprints outside. Swing a kettlebell. Get a game of Ultimate or basketball together. Go to the park early enough and do tai chi with the middle-aged Chinese people. Go trail running.

11. Seek Out the Light-Hearted

Hit a comedy club, or curl up with some loved ones and your favorite funny movies. Research shows that laughter reduces stress (unlike lines at the mall), boosts our immune function, relaxes our muscles, enhances circulation, relieves tensions, and decreases pain. Even if it didn’t do those things, laugher feels great. Isn’t that enough?

12. Prep Your Leftovers

Cooked poultry gets weird pretty quickly. If you wait more than a couple days to deal with the leftovers, they won’t be as fresh or tasty. You might even start getting that poultry slime, in which case all bets are off and you have to throw everything away.

Take an hour or so to get everything organized. Remove all the meat from the bones and set it aside. you can do so much with leftover turkey, from just treating it as a simple protein source to making turkey tetrazzini with spaghetti squash. I like chopping it roughly, adding some celery, some Primal mayo, some homemade cranberry sauce, and sometimes some hot sauce for Thanksgiving turkey salad. Make some turkey soup. Make bone broth. While others are eating food court Panda Express in between brawls over 2-for-1 down comforters, you’re getting the next week’s worth of healthy meals ready.

13. Go On an Outdoor Pilgrimage

The fresh crisp fall air is perfect for a long, hard outdoor excursion. You can push up the intensity without overheating and getting sweaty. Climb a certain mountain in your area. Hit a challenging trail. Walk the full distance of a local urban trail. Be in the moment, in that place. Allow the experience to dismiss all the buzz and distractions. Use the time to center yourself on what matters to you this holiday season. Make it the beginning of an annual (or weekly) tradition.

14. Finally, Drink Up Every Bit of Leisure

Read fiction while taking a hot bath. Watch good TV or film. Binge, even. I always use this day to watch A Christmas Story (wrong holiday, but still), and while it’s hilarious, it’s also incredibly touching. One of my favorite scenes is when the parents sit together, quietly enjoying the tree while the kids fall asleep and the snow falls outside.

Sometimes the best part of a holiday is the quiet hours after the agenda’s been satisfied and the dishes are washed. It’s somehow the part I always enjoy the most. It’s when people are most unscheduled and unfettered. The best conversations unfold amidst the comfortable silence. Why rush it? Just sit with it. The best of life so often happens in the lulls, the interludes, the end of a great evening. Don’t miss it.

Thanks for reading today, everybody. On Friday, the Worker Bees will be showing how they’re spending their Black Friday Primal-style. Be sure to stop by, and have a great holiday week.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

26 thoughts on “14 Healthier Ways to Spend Black Friday”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Great tips! I won’t show this entry to my wife, who has to work Black Friday… For me, I will clean up around the house, go for a hike and have a hot Primal meal waiting for dinner.

    1. You, Sir, are definitely something to be thankful for!! I nominate you for tip #15 on the above list!

        1. Aw, shucks. Thank you, both. Likewise, my Primal knowledge and fervor has grown tremendously by knowing you, Timothy. Come over, PrimalGrandma if you want a piece of keto pumpkin pie. 😀

  2. Those of us up north will have to substitute shoveling snow for raking leaves. I haven’t seen leaves in a month. A good snow hike is always refreshing though. If only we had enough to start cross country skiing!

  3. Great ideas and I love them all! Maybe next year I’ll do that black Friday brunch, but this year we’re hosting Thanksgiving and I’m going to be too tired… We plan to rest, not shop.

    Side note: I would love to put this on my “nutritious movement” Pinterest board, but I have the hardest time pinning things from your blog. Would you ever consider doing an image in each post that works for pinning?

  4. Amen. We aren’t fans of Black Friday and just ignore the whole thing. I appreciate that there are people who make their living with that sort of thing, but when you get right down to it, if you can’t take it with you, then most of that stuff you rush out to buy is mostly pointless. Mark’s ideas are infinitely better.

  5. I am planning on doing some traveling. And I am going to indulge in some relaxing time on an island and some good food. Thank you for these wonderful tips.

  6. What’s wrong with Small Business Saturday? Aren’t most Primal suppliers small businesses? Local nursery for indoor herbs. A couple of you-pick orchard stores are still open for apples, cider, or fresh whole milk. Local meat markets. Saturday farmer’s markets. Work off T-day dinner at a family-owned Crossfit, yoga studio, or indoor trampoline park. My local natural food market sells Primal Kitchen Mayo too.

    1. Oxide, there’s definitely nothing wrong with Small Business Saturday (and you’re 100% right about Primal suppliers) or Black Friday itself. The message here is simply alternatives for those who want them. For the record, the kind of Saturday shopping you describe is right up my alley. Good luck with your business this season, and thanks for including the Primal brand in your offerings too.

      1. Just to clarify, I don’t have a business. I just shop at the local natural foods store; it’s not “mine”; that is, I don’t own it. Sorry for the confusion!

  7. The weather is supposed to be perfect locally this weekend, so we’re going to camp and get on a river. I’d rather be giving my business to a canoe outfitter that day. 🙂

  8. All great suggestions. I’ve never gotten caught up in the Black Friday stuff…no interest in fighting crowds and standing in line to save a few bucks on something I probably don’t need anyway. But I plan to support as many businesses as I can on small business Saturday. (It will be online shopping as I’ll be waiting at the airport to catch a plane to the Bahamas for a much needed dose of vitamin D)

    1. +1. I totally agree regarding crowds and standing in line. Not my thing at all. Have fun in the Bahamas!

  9. Such great stuff, Mark! This is why I love the Primal Blueprint. It is a much-needed holistic approach to wellness. Thank you!

  10. I will definitely be spending Black Friday in the woods. Lots of free-range, grass-fed, antibiotic-free Primal protein (aka venison) to be had. And it’s a great opportunity just to observe what is happening in the natural world. A super chance for some personal decompression amid all of the “holiday hubbub”.

  11. Hey I am doing good according to this very excellent suggestions:

    – I am on vacation this week and doing daily plunges in cold water (ok, not as cold as Pacific waters, but good for us miamians) followed by 80 butterfly strokes

    – Working with my hands updating my electric and non electric bikes (I have seriously consider working in a bike shop part time after I retire)

    – Enjoying the sleep in daily

    – Training outside in the sand almost daily, and when not training doing IPA carb refeeds

    – Sorry no rake leaves here

    – This one I liked the most “Drink Up Every Bit of Leisure” and I got if fully

    Happy ThanksGiving everyone!

  12. Friday is also Native American Heritage Day. Sad that it’s also Black Friday. Maybe we should all take some time to learn more about Native American people! I mean, they’re a pretty Grokin’ kinda folk if you ask me!

  13. There is an obsession around stuff with Black Friday and all of the related holidays. I do like them as a chance to save money – but only for stuff that I was actually going to buy anyway.

    I love your advice here. Disconnecting from the commercialism is a powerful tool – as is spending time doing things that are more beneficial and rewarding.

  14. Yeah you had me at sleep in. Truth be told, I just enjoy my company. I know it’s old fashioned but I like the conversation with people who just don’t see often.