Listening to Your Body

Tin cans on a string.Question: what does your body feel like right now? Go ahead. Take an inventory. From the toes to the head, what’s going on in there at the present moment? How’s your back? How’s your stomach? Your head? How about muscles? Your energy level and mood? Is your thinking clear this morning? Good and bad, what signals are you getting? Beyond the here and now, what’s your body been trying to tell you lately? Any changes since beginning the Challenge? Most important of all perhaps – are you accustomed to listening to what your body has to say?

Everything about our culture, it seems, discourages us from doing just that. From the commercials insisting we don’t need to put up with that headache to the glorification of binge drinking, taking a body’s hint isn’t exactly at the top of most people’s list of talents or priorities. Why live with that pesky fever when you can simply beat it back with 1000 milligrams of extra strength head-in-the-sand? Indigestion from eating that second Big Mac today? Try some Pepcid AC.

Think about it. People bring a kind of pride to pushing through the pain (and I’m not just talking about childbirth or weightlifting here). People go into work sick as dogs (my personal favorite). They knowingly ignore with the clear physiological effects of chronic stress. They eat a diet for much or all of their lifetime that leaves them sluggish and overweight. It’s only when serious illness hits that we sit up and take notice. (Ironically, sometimes serious illness teaches us how to listen to our bodies, to discover how symptoms – however subtle – can be a crucial barometer for larger issues.) The body has – and shares – its own brand of wisdom. We’d do well to heed its cues before it smacks us over the head with a club.

Too often, of course, we surrender the power that comes from reading and knowing our bodies. We unthinkingly relinquish it to doctors and other practitioners, either because we genuinely believe that theirs is the only substantive opinion or because we don’t really want to take responsibility for our health. Owning your well-being is an unofficial but essential Primal principle. Appreciating your ability to listen to your body’s signals follows from it.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about the potential (and fun) of self-experimentation. You’re your very own guinea pig. (Oh, the possibilities…) Ultimately, however, the crux of self-experimentation is self-assessment – physical assessment to be exact. A glucose monitor can be a handy tool. A heart rate monitor is a good gadget to have. A notebook and pen (or Word document) might be an even better set of instruments, however. (It all depends upon an open and perceptive mind of course.) I’ll venture to say that your body will tell you in its own way what the machine displays. By all means, take advantage of technology, but use it to help hone your own perception. What does a certain heart rate feel like? What sensations creep up when your glucose hits a certain number?

What does a headache mean? A backache? What precipitates foggy thinking or acid reflux? What confers a sense of lightness after lunch or a good night’s sleep? What choices seem to contribute to or prevent that infamous midafternoon slump?

Think about all the sensations that your body can produce – positive and negative: fatigue, foggy thinking, dizziness, digestive issues, rapid breathing or heart beat, skin flare-ups, back pain or general achiness, stiffness, stuffy nose, neck tension, dry eyes, constipation, dry mouth, headache – and the balanced, comfortable opposites of those symptoms like a clear head, steady energy, effective digestion, relaxed muscles, and regular bowel movements. (Don’t underestimate the gratification and importance of a good poop.)

Genuine health of course isn’t just the absence of obvious negative symptoms as it’s often thought of. Living a life in line with its genetic expectations goes a long way toward deciphering the softer signs. For example, lots of folks tell me it was only after going Primal that they were able to pinpoint food allergies or underlying chronic conditions. Going Primal finally allowed them to perceive the subtler signals that had previously been blocked out by bigger noise of a SAD, inflammation-promoting, digestion-busting diet, chronic cardio, or consistent lack of sleep. Most of us have had this experience on some level. Going Primal reveals long-term disruption we didn’t even know existed until we had the experience of living without its sources and subsequent misery.

To complement your self-experimentation or just enhance your Challenge success, learn to hone your perception skills with regular practice and keen assessment.

  • Keep a reminder with you. Psychologists often advise clients to keep a stone or other object in their pocket or on their wrist as a reminder to assess their well-being periodically during the day.
  • Stop a few times a day – a few consistent times and any time you feel a peak or valley on the horizon. Put your hand on your heart if you need an added gesture to get into the spirit of the exercise. Take an inventory of every part, but don’t just look for the bad or use the “okay” as the measuring stick for good. Identify what sensations are associated with real vitality (e.g. relaxed shoulders, soft eye expression, a bright feeling in your upper body).
  • Record the negative and positive feelings you observe. Think about what’s going on in the present moment. Where are you are? What kind of interactions and activities have filled this part of the day? What have you eaten in the last one to two hours? When was the last time you were outside? How does this compare to how you felt yesterday at this same time?
  • Compare the sensations and connections to your self-experimentation project. Are you onto something? Write it down, and see if similar conditions the next day produce the same sensations or if changed circumstances interrupt the pattern.
  • Think about where you’re at in your self-experimentation or Challenge transition. If you’ve chosen to overhaul your diet and finally ditch grains and sugar this week, the fatigue you may be feeling is possibly the low carb flu. If your goal has been to ratchet up your exercise but you’ve been overdoing it or not allowing for adequate recovery time, you might need to give yourself a rest period. The truth might be found in both the details and the big picture.
  • Get in the habit of thinking through your physical sensation. Give the body its due as part of the intellect. Like all animals, we apprehend and interpret our environment bodily as well as abstractly. Ask the body in whatever manner of speaking you’re into, what do you need now? Movement? A nap? Some fresh air or sunlight? An extra layer of clothing? Maybe just a good laugh?
  • Whatever you undertake in response, take time to read the subsequent signals. What’s changed? What happened to the old sensations? What new ones do you notice? Are parts of you affected that weren’t before? Maybe you didn’t notice any mental fogginess before, but now you realize how much clearer and sharper your thinking is after a brisk walk or a few minutes of play. Relish and repeat.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. Have a great day.

TAGS:  prevention

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.

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

97 thoughts on “Listening to Your Body”

Leave a Reply

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

  1. I feel full. I ate a grapefruit for breakfast and a VERY LARGE big ass salad for lunch. Too much.

    No worries. Ill just eat a smaller dinner.

    Listen to your body. Live life. Live in Hawaii for 5 weeks. Why not?!

    1. Sugar (carbs) of ANY kind eaten without protein will break down muscle to get all amino acids to be able to metabolize sugar.
      Always eat some form of COMPLETE protein with your carbs. If not complete your body will continue to break down amino acid tissue (muscle) to be able to metabolize.
      That is why carb bingers like marathon runners are muscle deficient and extremely skinny, but still sport a not so sexy muffin top.

    2. lol Primal Toad, I’m doing exactly what you suggested in your last line. I’ve got 3 more weeks here in Waikiki, Honolulu and I’m lovin it! 😀

  2. Wow, I’m first.

    Today I’m not feeling great actually, which could be a combination of poor sleep and seasonal allergies. I get allergies every fall, but this fall it seems that they are at least less severe than normal. I’m hoping next year, after a full year of living the Grok life, I may not have them at all!

    1. Abby, i hear ya! this may sound a bit out of the ordinary but typically on a full moon i have a harder time getting good rest (werewolf blood, maybe) particularly this past full moon which it has be the biggest of the year (harvest moon). I find out that once i eliminated all grains any form of allergy i had previously it completely disappared. Wish you lots of luck!

      1. Same here. I stopped eating grains and drinking pasteurized milks and TADA! All allergies I thought I had disappeared. No more chronic sinus infections, no more nasal sprays, no more anti-histamines, no more staying inside near the air cleaner to be able to breathe and no more skin rashes and hot, itchy, red eyes.
        Also, fix your omega 6:3 ratio. O6 is an inflammation response fatty acid. The more you carry around the more your body will try and stay busy by attacking random ‘pollutants’, which all food in its un-natural state is.
        It’s like having 20 guys in your house looking for things to do and you have to keep them busy.
        It is easier to keep 2 guys busy than 20.
        You can’t take in 3000mg of Omega 3 every day, and think it’ll kill the O6, it doesn’t.
        Now you might have 3 girls in your house trying to keep busy, but the 20 guys are still there, too.

    1. Without reading the entire study, I would say this abstract is relatively useless–knowing ratios of macronutrients is kind of meaningless–was the fat animal fat, coconut oil and butter or was it canola, soybean and corn oil? Were the carbs from vegetables and fruit or from sugar and grains?

      Beyond that, neither group can really be catagorized as “low carb.” In a 2000 Kcal/day diet, that’s 200 grams of carb in the “Zone” group and the other is the USDA ratios (300 g carbs). Would they have seen even better results if they had included a group that had a ratio of, say, 10% from carbs, 30% from protein and 70% from fat (my approximate ratio)?

      Both groups may have seen improvement because the number of calories were reduced to create a deficit (I know, I know; weight loss and metabolism isn’t about calories-in/calories-out, but after a certain point you are going to lose weight and see certain health markers improve if you are taking in less food than you need to maintain your weight–I would simply argue and most would likely agree that this plan is not sustainable.) In fact, there could have been many factors at play, but with the information Don includes in this post, there’s no way to tell.

      And of course, ultimately, the effectiveness of any diet is how much it doesn’t seem like a “diet.” How satisfying is it? How do the participants feel on the diet? Were they reasonably able to stick to it?

      I used to really like what Don had to say, but lately he seems to have gotten sloppy and biased. Maybe it’s because I’m agreeing with him less and less but it really seems he used to be more careful in his research.

    2. Telling subjects to eat in a certain way doesn’t mean they did. From the abstract we can’t tell that. We also can’t tell what foods were eaten.

      Begin with the fact that protein is metabolised differently to carbohydrate. If there are low or non-significant differences on a whole range of variables it is likely that the two groups didn’t have significantly different eating habits.

      The changes that were observed are likely due to caloric restriction.

      But I could be wrong. We can’t be sure of anything without reading the whole paper.

  3. Thanks for the reminder, Mark. Luckily I grew up with a mom who really focused on the importance of listening to your body – she always said how a fever is good because it’s killing the bug that you have. And she also always said it’s ok to eat dirt 😉

    I think I’m going to wear a hairtie around my wrist to remember. It’s so easy to forget! I’m listening to my stomach now and it’s telling me to REST.

  4. It is amazing to me how lazy and tired and depressed I had to become before I listened to my body. The food I ate, the lack of exercise, the late nights and early mornings were killing me. I had no energy, no creativity,m no desire for anything except food and TV.

    I KNOW that when I eat too many carbs from grains I feel hyped (jittery even) and then sluggish. I also know that my thinking isn’t as clear

    I’ve been eating better since the 30-day challenge began. Apples, meat, leafy greens. I feel better with more energy. Had my workout this morning and feel more energetic. I can tell the 30-day challenge is working already!

  5. I feel amazing, alive. I’ve survived about 5 days of flu-like symptoms, but maybe I’m through the woods. I’m on day 16 of going primal!

    I feel great. Comfortable, sated but not full, warm, joyful, physically tired and emotionally energetic. I just finished an amazing, home-cooked dinner and I’m lying in bed with a book and some jasmine green tea. I feel such an upwelling of happiness in my chest–I’m seeing my blessings with such clarity! Thank you, Mark. Today has been wonderful.

  6. Keep a journal whenever you make a meaningful change in your life habits. Start by briefly recording what you’re going to do and what you hope to accomplish.

    That way you’ll have a much better idea of what the change is doing for you, and whether you want to continue with it. If it’s a substantial positive change, the journal will also serve as motivation to stick with it.

    Note that quitting a change is also journal-worthy, and will serve as a double-check on your previous evaluation.


    1. This journal idea you speak of is on my list of habits to start. I’m planning on picking out a nice (i.e., something pretty that will fit in my purse) journal this weekend to help me out.

  7. I think I’d like a nap… out in the fresh air and sunlight… but then again, I live in Chicago and its currently 58 degrees and sunless. Maybe that’s why I feel tired. Ha 🙂

    1. I live in North Texas where it’s 69 and cloudy. As compared to the past summer when it’s been 105+ and bright sun nearly every day. It was 107 Tuesday. Probably why I feel like snoozing too.

  8. This is a great post, I’ve always listened to my body and tell my kids to as well. My husband is a rancher and I was a Veterinary Technician before kids – so we both are observant to illness/tiredness etc in animals and we both find that it transfers over to noticing if our kids/ourselves are not feeling well. We can tell if one of our kids have a throat infection before the doctor can! I wonder why people have lost the sensation of listening to their body, Tylenol commercials????

  9. Today, I feel shaky and a bit weak, with abdominal discomfort that is slowly improving through the morning. This is completely attributable to what I ate last night, which while totally Primal, was not a good idea. We made Cajun-style pork loin. I NEVER eat food that spicy in anywhere near that amount. But it was really good, so I ate my whole 1/2 pound loin chop.

    My digestion has been exacting revenge on me for the past 16 hours as a result, with cramps that woke me up several times in the night and lovely, spicy-hot diarrhea this morning. Who knew eating heaps of ground black and cayenne pepper might irritate a sensitive gut? 😛

    Also, I am a bit sore in my back and shoulders from my barbell training last night.

    Other than those (temporary, acute) issues, I feel my usual “pretty damn good”. Got plenty of sleep last night depite a few interruptions, woke up at daybreak without an alarm, had a good breakfast once I felt up to eating, and took a nice sit on my back porch in the early-morning cool with my fiancee, watching the dog run around like a crazy beast. Then off to work, and now having a lovely lunch of Primal leftovers (grass-fed ground beef and sauteed vegetables, NOT more super-spicy pork, lol). Pretty nice day so far. 🙂

  10. I’ve just started eating paleo on monday and have found it incredibly hard to get up in the morning. Could this be from the low carb flu?

    1. Yes, general lethargy is definitely a common symptom. You don’t have to lower your carbs all at once if its easier for you to slowly lower the level over several days or weeks.

    2. Hang in there, I had a hard time for a week or so and once it was over…wow, I don’t remember feeling this good. It’s so nice not to have to eat something every few hours. Carb crashing is the pits. Primal living is liberating in so many ways.

  11. Is anyone else out there checking the scales as well as listening to your body?

    I have been Primal for a while but about two weeks ago, I took out dairy and started CrossFit to meet my “lift heavy things” and “sprint” requirements. I’ve been going every three days or so, letting my body rest, but I know I’m building muscle.

    Just how much more does muscle weigh? I think I’ve gained three pounds! (not what I was hoping for when I stepped on the scale this morning.)

    I “feel” tired, maybe I am still not sleeping enough.

    1. You also might not be eating enough to fuel intense workouts. I know Robb Wolf hammers on this all the time, that lethargy and slow recovery are usually symptoms of under-fueling for your activity level.

      1. Yeah I struggle with balancing it all: exercising, eating, IF-ing, sleeping… I know it is all so important, and it’s difficult to know which one needs to be addressed.

        I am also writing everything down, so perhaps I will notice a pattern after a while.

        1. Eryn, if you’ve only been primal for a couple of weeks, I wouldn’t be trying to tweek anything too much yet (e.g. IF’ing).

          Just concentrate on getting good nourishing food, sleep and exercise.

          Your lethargy could also be due to carb flu / grand and/or sugar withdrawals if you’re just in your first couple of weeks.

        2. Eryn, in my experience I ll have to say to put your rest and food ahead of everything else for now, (since you are only starting recently) both eating and resting are the most anabolic of your choices concentrate there, exercise and all other activities are by nature catabolic, more so if there is not good nutrition and rest.
          I will stay clear of training in an empty stomach such as an AM Xfit session, it can definitely drive your blood sugar way to low and create a huge imbalance in your metabolism such as mitochondrial damage which is well scientifically researched.
          Another thing i will recommend is to go low fat (only at this time) in your post workout meal that will ensure that your glycogen levels will be restored and you will have a decent day without any energy up and downs.

    2. One of the first things I have noticed, is that when people start exercising, you generally will gain some weight initially before losing. A lot depends on your body type and diet though…if you have an extra 100-150 lbs, I would be surprised to see the scale go up if you are sticking with diet. On the other hand, if you only have 15 or 20 lbs you are trying to lose, I would not worry much about the scale for the first 6 weeks.
      Also, if you really want to get things going, workout fasted and then eat. Either get up early and work out before breakfast, or skip lunch and work out before dinner. A lot of science says eat protein within 30 minutes, but as long as you work out fasted, and then eat, you should see more results.

      1. I’m definitely more in the 15lb-to-lose range, so thanks for the advice!

        I have found that I prefer the morning workout before breakfast, so I will try to stick to that.

    3. I wouldn’t worry too much about the scale right now. Just listen to your body and don’t over complicate things! Eat when you are hungry, rest when you are tired, the rest will come.

      Also your body can fluctuate a few pounds a day just from water. For a more accurate measurement of your progress look in the mirror, some people even take a photo each month in the same position and lighting. I like to measure myself around the areas where I tend to carry the most fat, ie stomach and thighs, but even that is not totally accurate since I could have gained muscle from doing squats etc.

      Mostly just pay attention to changes in muscle tone and definition and how your clothes fit. Good luck! 🙂

  12. Yes. It’s amazing how disconnected from their bodies some people are. A friend of mine literally can’t tell when she’s hungry – to the point of not eating the whole day because she forgets to eat.

    I’ve always listened to my body, to the point of mild hypochondria, and I think I’m healthier for it.

    For me, by the way, the major factor in my well-being is not food but sleep. When I eat awful food, I get a bit of acne, which is no fun, but that’s all. When I get less than 8 hours of sleep, I’m essentially useless – I get irritable, my brain stops working right, I develop all sorts of crazy addictive behaviors, and so on. I’ve been sleeping well since the Challenge started, and I feel so much better – energetic, happy, and ready to take on the world.

  13. All day I’ve actually been very on-the-ball and motivated at work. Not sure whether it’s due to a good night’s sleep, the hour long walk I took after dinner last night, the light breakfast and salad for lunch, or what… but it’s good.

    My back is a little strained from sitting in my chair all day. Always a little pain up in the shoulders and I know exactly where it comes from. I really should at the very least stack a few boxes on my desk to make this a standing workstation.

    Stomach is getting a little rumbly already but I’m looking forward to a nice big duck breast with some fresh veggies from the local farmer’s market tonight… so I’ll just wait!

  14. My feet are cold and I have to pee. Funny thing is, if I hadn’t just read this article, I would continue reading other articles doing nothing about my discomfort. Now I’m signing off to take care of what my body is begging me to do … pee and get some socks!

  15. I have a toothache and i’m on my way to get a root canal! I know i’m going to feel much better this afternoon! Beside the toothache, I’m feeling pretty healthy.

  16. Fasted yesterday and today I just feel wasted. Every time I get up my head spins. Thinking low iron. But like I tell everyone…I can eat beef liver until I’m green and it won’t raise. Tomorrow is another day!

  17. I feel horrible. My heart hurts, everything is shaking. OTOH I just did some sprints…

  18. I’m actually a little tired, but I notice a huge difference in how my joints feel at work…I just switched to my 5-finger shoes. I have had them for a while, but actually wore them to work today. My knees and hips are loving me for that decision. I definitely need to find a new job, because I have been noticing the negative side affects of the stress I have from work. I think a lot of that has to do with my not feeling well.

  19. Found out my iron is great! I said it is because of my special diet. That being said I am tired because this week has been really busy.

    I have had various muscle aches in my back for the last week sore and stiff neck and shoulders and now a pinched nerve in my lower back… no idea what is going on but I don’t push myself to do more when I am feeling this way. I guess years of the wrong posture, injuries and no stretching take a long time to undo.

    The eating on the other hand is fabulous. There were cookies all over the office yesterday and I managed to avoid eating even one, which is a miracle for me. Just played the tape out on how I would feel after and that helped me find the will power to resist.

    1. Mary, try doing a few minutes of lower back stretches. I used to suffer from terrible sciatica then I started doing 15 min. of stretching every morning and it cleared right up!
      I do the warm up from this yoga video called Naval Power by Ana and Ravi. The whole workout is amazing but the first few minutes really limbers up the spine but gently 🙂

      1. I do yoga’s “child pose” almost every morning before I get out of bed, really helps with my lower back pain.

      2. What kind of stretches did you do for your sciatica because I have it now and its annoying. thanks

        1. I highly recommend you get the naval power video, it’s available to download, and the progression of exercises is what makes it really effective. They are not passive stretches, but warm up exercises. Naval Power by Ravi Ana

  20. Interesting about people pinpointing food allergies after going primal. I had a similar experience when I did a VLC diet a few years back.. It involved 7 month of abstinence from conventional food (not necessarily an approach to weight loss that i”d now recommend, but it got me here eventually….) At the point when I started to reintroduce real foods, I discovered a whole heap of allergies.

    Listening to my body’s reactions and learning to take note of the physical feedback i was getting has been, and continues to be a challenging journey.

    It took an enlightened nutritionist to point out that my body had ‘chosen’ me a Primal/Paleo diet and even then it took a while (you know… just 2 years!) for me to really hear it and respond in the way that my body needed me to.

  21. Considering that yesterday was an annual company party-event and I went out with work friends after for more partying*…this morning is not a good day to wake up to Mark asking how im feeling xP

    On the plus side, im focusing on rehydrating without relying on sugary sports drink crap and eating some good steak and veggie leftovers instead of cereal. I feel this is helping me bounce back a lot better and quicker than I ever have before. I let myself rest and nap this morning instead of pushing myself, and now Im up and about almost good as new.

    (*in my defense I only get a little too crazy with alcohol once a year and I guess this is this year’s quota filled)

  22. Honestly, I think this is one of your best and most important articles.

    Being in tune with your nature/nurture is pretty darn important fo aiming at being at your peak consistently and foreseeing possible train wrecks.

  23. I have gone primal for over a year now. I have lost 18 pounds from my original small 178 pound frame. I am physically in great shape. I lift heavy things 3 times a week and do sprints 2 times per week. I also walk a lot since my sales job forces me to check out several construction sites a day. However, mentally, I don’t feel in great shape. My stress levels have seemed to increase more than ever. I have also cut my drinking (booze) to a quarter of what I used to. But I can’t bust the constant blues and negative thinking. Anyone have any good advice??

    1. Meditation. I highly recommend Rick Hanson’s book Buddha’s Brain. It’s practical psychoneural science. Meditation strengthens the prefrontal cortex and that has amazing benefits.

      1. I’ve seriously tried meditation many times. But my brain won’t allow it. How do you stop your brain from thinking when you are awake??

        1. Thats one of the biggest misconceptions about meditation. In most styles of meditation that I know of, youre not supposed to STOP thinking; youre supposed to slow your thoughts down somewhat, but just let them come. Dont try and direct them, evaluate them, or judge them. Try to be present in the moment while letting your mind flow where it will.

          Its not easy, ive only just started practicing it myself.

        2. I do a moderate yoga session, it is the only thing that takes my brain down into my body. It is the only thing that shuts down my brain chatter.

    2. Aikido worked wonders for me. Your local dojo may vary, but the one I go to focuses as much on positive thinking/energy/Ki as it does on the physical. Plus you’re getting your workout at the same time.

    3. Darryl, I had trouble with those things as well until I started supplementing with vitamin D and getting more sun – a lot more. I’m not sure if you’re doing that; just thought I’d add my two cents. Good luck:)

  24. A few years ago, I took a weekend workshop from a qi gong master. He was quite critical of Westerners who were completely unconscious of the energy or chi in their bodies. We did several long meditations feeling the flow up the spine, down the arms and back, up the neck, through the head to the top and then drop to the tongue, swallow to the belly….
    Now I make of point of turning my attention away from the voice in the head to feel the life in my body. It’s a lovely practice.

  25. Right now my stomach and my head are telling me that it was really stupid to eat that 1/2 bar of dark chocolate even though it was 70% cacao. I feel nauseated and I don’t know why I just did that. I ate pork chops and salad for lunch so I wasn’t hungry. I was bored eating instead of hungry eating.

    It’s going to take me some time to get over the whole emotional eating part I think.

    1. I also had some dark chocolate today without being hungry, but it’s a treat – enjoy it! I suffer from emotional eating and perfectionist tendencies, and I’ve found that a walk, a deep breath, a cup of tea/coffee, or a combination of the above satisfy much more deeply than a snack. Food is adequate fuel for your body, but not your soul. Find what feeds your soul – no matter what it is – and stuff it full. 🙂 Love and good luck.

    2. Susan, don’t give up! I have struggled with emotional eating since early adolescence, and am just starting to get a handle on it. Chocolate is a huge weakness for me, so I totally understand — I have to tell you, though, 70% still has a LOT of sugar, which is why it’s nearly impossible to stop once you’ve started. I let myself eat as much 85% as I want, and I never eat more than 3 squares (3.5g sugar total). Hope that helps! Another thing I do is drink a cup of green tea after dinner if I’m craving sweets but I’m not hungry. Yogi Green Tea Super Antioxidant is the best I’ve tried yet by far. Grok on!

  26. I really need to try some of this self-experimentation stuff. It’s just really hard for me to notice a difference in how I feel because 99% of the time I feel absolutely fine. Then when I occasionally feel off, it’s really hard to put my finger on what’s causing it.

  27. I felt lethargic and sleepy after eating several squares of chocolate and M&M’s earlier today, but I really noticed the effects and am learning every single day what works and what doesn’t for me. Lighter dairy this week has me feeling less bloated and more energized. My skin has cleared up also. And yesterday I ate very little animal protein and honestly noticed a ‘never feeling quite full’ feeling and a bit lethargic. Eating more primally has really awakened me to sensing all sorts of cues from my body it’s truly amazing.

  28. Today I was tired, but the last few days I have been well rested and full of energy. Have been eating primal for the past couple of months. The aches in my knees, which I thought was from age, is now gone.

    Best of all, I am almost never hungry any more.

  29. I feel a bit fuzzy in the head, I have had big problems with sleep the last 3 days. Very strange I never have troube with sleeping!

    I am also mighty sore in my lats, hamstrings and my glute.

  30. I’ve just started the primal fitness diet. I’m one of those super skinny people. I’m currently 143 and would like to be at 155-160. I do heavy compound lifts three times a week. I started at 127 pounds of body weight. While I was gaining strength and muscle, I noticed my belly gaining fat, that never happens to me. I think it’s the eat tons and tons of calories, which is true, but it was the pasta, bagels, rice, oatmeal, bread, pancakes and so on. While I may have been putting on muscle, it was apparently just too much even for my body type. I have a muscular physic except around my stomach, I look like a skinny fat.

    That’s my body telling me to make a change. I’m going primal to cut out this excess fat I do have, gain more lean muscle to get my body weight where I want it, and just for the longevity and health benefits. So far I’ve noticed that I’m more hungry more often. No problems with lethargy yet.

  31. I’ve been super strict Paleo for the last three weeks – and I feel amazing! I wake up before my alarm every day and have so much more energy!

  32. I feel energetic and clear headed for the most part, but have been struggling with severe carb cravings. I have been trying to reduce my fruit intake which is proving to be difficult. My stomach is a lot flatter and my complexion seems healthier. If only I could stop thinking about eating sweets.

  33. What happens when your mind trumps what your body says (i.e. eating food for the emotional positivity they give you rather than the nutritional benefit)? Or when your “body”/mouth tells you things you know just aren’t right (i.e. to have a whole wheel of cheese for dinner rather than meat and vegetables)

    I’ve nearly read this website cover to cover and I agree with the basic principles and I’ve been trying to adhere to it incrementally but I’ve experienced so many setbacks. I’m an overeater and a food addict but going primal has only intensified my issues with food (sometimes I’ll have horrible binges like today: a muffin and a brownie ugh). I see all the great progress everyone has made on this site and I feel like I’ll never become a part of the community because I’m doomed by my over-intake of foods and my compulsion to eat bad things even when I know better.

    1. Rachelle, having it all together is not a prerequisite for being part of this community! The wonderful thing about the people here is that we all have something that we struggle with and are striving to do better, and helping each other along the way! Keep coming here and checking out the forums for answers to specific questions you might have, and don’t give up. Focus more on the good choices you’re making, and eventually they’ll become habits, and then a way of life.

  34. I havent had to change much this week, since I’ve been fairly good with the Primal thing lately. But just giving up artificial sweetners and coffee, and the low-carb chocolate have seemed to make a difference! My appetite has decreased, and I have so much energy that I overdid the exercise Tuesday! Unfortunately that means I have been in ALOT of pain Weds and Thurs…(if I had to go into an office or school I would have taken the OTC Meds…I do understand that situation!) I have lost some of the weight I put on eating too much fruit and dairy this summer, so here’s to fall and a fresh start!

  35. Staying in touch with your body and the way that you feel is to me, one of the most important things you can do. Primal eating is a good way to begin this process, but I feel that meditation is the best way to go about it. Systematically becoming aware of your body, every little sensation and nuance and then trying to remember to be mindful of this throughout your day.
    Just my two cents.

    Have a good day all 🙂

  36. I’d also like to add, eating even a little beef each day fills me up more than other foods!

  37. This week I’m trying to cut back on fruits and dairy, so I’m feeling more lethargic than usual. I didn’t make it to the co-op this week, so we’re eating the best supermarket meat we can instead of that — not sure if that has any effect in the mix too. My skin has been really dry lately, probably just the season change, and my mood (generally ranging between a bit and very bipolar) has been better than it sometimes is, although in the neighborhood of “okay” rather than “good.” I think tomorrow I will try to get outside a little more and do some stretching. I’ll particularly pay attention in the next few days to how the temperature affects me.

  38. Love your site Mark. Just found it through fitnessblackbook and I’m really digging this whole primal thing. Keep it up.

  39. Well, I had to pee, but after reading the first paragraph I took care of that. 😛

    My feet hurt, my calves are tight, and I’m tired. I walked in my Vibrams several miles today pushing two kids in a bike trailer/stroller thing because our car recently died and we’re trying to see if we can be a car-free family. And I’m tired because I need to sleep, but I have to can a lot of pears and spaghetti sauce tonight before I sleep so I can make room in my fridge for my recent egg and yogurt purchase (5 dozen and 1 gallon, respectively).

    Oh, and my hands hurt from being cut in numerous places and then having to preserve lemons with salt.

  40. G/Day Mark.
    This is a struggle I have only used these infernal machines about as long as I have been PRIMAL.I enjoyed your topic about listening to your body, as I practiced yoga for about 20y before other commitments took over. But learned habits never die. Just arrived back from a 6 kilometer walk and ready for dinner, rolled roast and steamed veg. Keep the news letters coming, loving them.
    Made some Sunflower and sesame crackers today and smeared them with home made salsa very nice thank you.

  41. I’ve been eating really well, with the exception of one beer last night. The gluten made my stomach huge last night and now this morning. Yesterday I randomly lost my voice, mucus built up in my throat, and my ears started crackling…today I woke up with a stuffy nose, more mucus in my throat, more ear crackle, and more rasp in my voice. I’m sore in every muslce of my body, thanks to CrossFit, and I got woken up by a phone call an hour after I went to bed for five hours of rest last night…needless to say I don’t feel amazing right now, lol

    My director thinks I should go to Urgent Care, but I hate going to the doctor for little things…I did have a really bad ear infection when I was a kid, though, so I do worry about that. Should I drink some Emergen-C? Allergy medicine? Just more sleep? I’m really not sure what will help the most.

    1. Sambucol is a natural remedy for virus-caused illnesses,like a cold or sore throat. You can get it at Whole Foods. Obviously if you have something serious, or if you think its bacterial, this wont help.

      1. Yeah, I think I’m gonna go to the doctor for antibiotics in the morning, since my ears are crackling so much. My ear drum busted when I was a kid and that was the worst pain ever, so I don’t wanna risk that…I don’t have a Whole Foods by me anyway. :'( But I’ll look for it at my health food store next time. Thanks!

  42. Mark, great article here. Listening to your body is such a simple, but high value rule for health and fitness success. Feedback is critically important for what’s working and what’s not. It’s critical to evaluate how your body responds. Love the idea of ‘self experimentation.’

    What’s also great is that this principle also applies to exercise. Listening to your body both during and after exercise, can provide great insight on your progress and keep you injury free, as well.
    Always great information and thanks for sharing!

  43. This is a great article Mark. When I started listening to my body, I changed the way I approached my training based on how my shoulder was feeling. Rather than thinking if I kept training through it the strange feeling would go away. Now I only perform body weight exercises and resistance bands instead of weights. Shoulder issues are a thing of the past now.

  44. I’ve been listening to my body for quite awhile. Like other readers, I view a fever as killing off all the bad stuff and not as something to be overly concerned about. I just started back on Billy Blank’s dvds and today feeling energized and the loose stuff is tightening up. I’m off for Cardio Inferno in a few minutes.

  45. Great post Mark
    Since starting the challenge I’ve been sleeping better and more alert throughout the day. Generally happier!So far so good.

  46. Just ate 1.5 lbs of free range chicken thighs cooked in coconut oil and I feel great… from my little toe all the way to my big Neanderthalitic head

  47. I have never had the issue of not listening to my body, in fact I have actually had doctors tell me I had no idea what I was talking about ( I insisted I had cysts on my ovaries- I swear I just knew this was the issue with my pain on the right side) turns out I was completely and utterly correct ( kudos for me?) I have always kept a good record both mentally and physically ( written down) when it comes to how my body feels.. this is why I stick to primal eating! 🙂

  48. I’m afraid my body is telling me that I can’t afford nasty low-carb flu while trying to balance work and looking after a toddler. New plan – go back to to a more conventional “healthy” diet (still heavy on the lean meat, vegies and fruit) and slowly reduce the carbs over time. Still love the PB philosophy, though, and am working on the other parts of the lifestyle…

    1. Christie,

      Not everyone experiences “low carb flu”. I would even go so far as to wager that most people don’t (you don’t hear from that group since they don’t have a complaint). If they do, it is usually short lived and mild.

      The problem with slowly reducing carbs is the cravings for them never go away.

      If you quit ’em all at once, in two weeks you will find you hardly miss all but a few of your favorites.

      If you can go a whole month, you can have one of those favorites and you will be shocked at how unsatisfying it is. Really!

  49. I’ve exercised my whole life and decided last week to finally make changes to my eating (not quite primal yet but cut out most of the starchy carbs, sugars etc.) and it wasn’t until reading this article that I realized that since making these changes I haven’t had the afternoon lethargic feeling I’m use to at work.
    Thanks for helping me come to such a simple and obvious realization. Definitely added motivation to continue eating better

  50. What a great reminder, As I was reading I noticed how tired my eyes feel, I have been Primal since the Sept 1st and loving it, but still have to work on getting more sleep it seems, my 1 year old daughter has a lot to answer for 😉
    Im just confused about the stone in the pocket idea? what is that for?

  51. Mark,

    Listening to your body is a simple thing that everyone can do to improve their overall quality of life. Little habits like taking an ice bath after a rough cardio session to prevent soreness the next day or just taking time off from everything to catch up on sleep when your body needs it can go a long way.


  52. I’m really having a hard time going primal. I’ve been eating an Atkins-style very low carb diet for the last couple of years. I’ve cured my IBS/GERD, lost about 60# and generally feel a lot better. So the idea of adding fruit and yams and other primal carbs is being hard.

    I’m going to use the challenge to ditch my last crutches – high fiber tortillas and the occassional Atkins bar (way too processed with too much soy and sugar alcohols).

    And getting 15 min of sun. I hadn’t realized what a mole I had become, getting to work before sunrise and leaving in the sunset.

  53. I absolutely loved this post! I’ve realize a while ago that when my body gives me signals that something is wrong, listen. I’ve done my share of not listening and I payed a very high price for it. I’ve been feeling very sick lately, but I would still push through my trainings. This week I had to stop working out because I kept feeling more sick, at first I felt guilty about not pushing my self ( because I feel the only way to stop feeling sick is to push your self ). But after reading this I don’t feel guilty anymore, my body needs a rest and I am going to give it the rest it’s asking for.

  54. Another day of under 70 grams carb. However, I expected to be losing weight at about the same pace as before (eating around 110-120 grams carb, 1400-1600 calories per day, 50-60% fat) and unfortunately, I’m not losing weight. Even walking 3 miles about 5-6 days per week, with some sprints thrown in, no movement of weight. In fact, I’m rising very slowly. I may continue this for another week, but then switch back to more carbs, to see if I can get back on track. It is confusing…any ideas?

  55. It is appropriate time to make a few plans for the long run and it’s time to be happy. I’ve learn this post and if I may I want to recommend you some attention-grabbing issues or suggestions. Perhaps you could write subsequent articles relating to this article. I wish to learn more issues approximately it!

  56. really nice post !
    I always apply 80/20 rule to all my works and i always write my plan on paper before doing anything.