Taking Fall Inventory

With the whirlwind of the Primal Challenge behind us, I have been enjoying getting back into the normal swing of things. Although nothing stands still here for long, it’s kind of nice to return to a familiar rhythm. With the calendars well into October now, I have my sights on fall – and seasons in general. While the topic of evolution and seasonality is intriguing, what I’d like to discuss today is what the seasonal transitions inspire: the reflection, the experimentation, the renewal. It’s a perfect time, I think, to rejuvenate stagnant routines (e.g. the week’s monotonous dinner menu, the gym circuit, etc.) and envision new practices. For some of us, the imaginative exercise might simply help us appreciate our choices from a new angle.

Even though school begins and obligations resume that were on hiatus during summer, somehow fall always takes on a slower, more introspective feel. Perhaps it’s because the return to routine encourages us to take more advantage of quiet moments. Maybe because the dramatic peak of fall is so fleeting, it inspires lingering attention and a more intentional mindset. It’s a season of uncultivated, raw beauty, of traditions without the hype of major holidays yet. Although Southern California isn’t exactly known for its spectacular autumn displays, fall still has significant meaning for me. We always make a point of traveling north this time of year to spend time with family and good friends, whose locales happen to also offer some of the best fall scenery. The season somehow always brings me back to my roots in a comforting way.

Wherever you live, the seasonal ebb and flow encourages us to check in with our own rhythms – however enlivening or stagnating they might be. Who says goal setting is just for New Year’s? Seasonal prompts can spur us toward revitalizing transitions in our routines. It’s more than a convenient parallel though. The changing light, dropping temps, and seasonal fare present very real influences to our Primal lifestyles. All the better to embrace it, I say.


Yes, the food. I think most of us associate fall with rich, warm dishes. (I’m salivating as I write this.) Maybe crock pots and gravy boats make a reappearance in your kitchen. Stew, soup, chili, oven roasted meats – fall food at least matches if not beats out summer fare for me. Maybe it’s the Maine spirit still coursing through my veins, but every year I look forward to getting out that cast iron Dutch oven.

If you’re new to the PB, think about how you’ll navigate fall eating this year. How can you Primal-ize old favorites or infuse your menu with new ideas? (MDA can help with that of course.) What worked in summer might not hold the same appeal on cooler days. Think ahead and enjoy the chance to get creative. The forethought and experimentation will help you stay on track later. Long-time adherents undoubtedly have some fall favorites, but there’s always room for one more masterpiece in a Primal kitchen. Anyone want to share?


If you’re well established in your exercise routine, fall is a great time to consider shaking it up – for progress’ sake and for general interest. Yes, the temperatures might bring many of us indoors or at least alter the schedule later in the season. However, there’s a physiological benefit to switching up your workout. Infusing your routine with some new activities helps you break beyond a fitness plateau and capitalize on new physical challenges to increase power, speed and endurance.

Others of us might choose to take on a quieter practice like yoga or Tai Chi this time of year. Sometimes the mood guides us in different ways, and there’s likely something genuine behind the intuition. Let your interests direct you. See where they lead and what the experience opens for you.

Outdoor Life

Some of us are summer people at heart who thrive in baking heat and thick humidity. Others of us impatiently wait for cooler temps to really throw ourselves into nature. Either way, take real advantage this year and decide how you’re going to play this fall. If you have young kids, their imaginations can help lead the way. If not, reclaim some favorite pastimes. Carrie and I love to bike the trails by our friends’ farm, and I always make time for a kayaking day at some point. Try something new. Take a rock climbing class or try your hand at caving.

It’s not just about day-long adventures or oodles of free time, however. Challenge yourself to weave as much outdoor time into your daily life as possible. Work outside if you can. Pay bills in one of the backyard lounge chairs. Set up the laptop on the patio table. Cook outside, eat outside, talk outside after the kids are in bed. Grab an evening walk – even if it is dusk or dark. Stand outside before bed and remind yourself what that crisp fall air feels like at midnight. Sit outside and just watch the leaves. Listen. If you wait, something interesting will happen.

Social Life

As much as people get out and about during summer, divergent vacation schedules and a more spontaneous brand of busyness can make it hard to get together with some friends or family. So often we end up saying that we’ll get together in fall “when everybody gets back in the groove.” Before the holidays overtake your calendar, schedule in those quieter, more casual times you always mean to with the people who matter the most in your life. Maybe it’s a long promised day trip with a partner or a dinner with good friends. Resurrect the potluck or progressive dinner, plan an afternoon hike or picnic, or just share a bottle of wine and some quality time.


With the extra light in summer, it’s easy to stay up and make the most of every hour. I know I benefit from the reminder an earlier darkness brings. It’s a good time to settle in for the evening, enjoy a good book or take the extra time to make a new recipe in the kitchen. With the quieter nighttime activities, I end up going to bed earlier and sleeping better. Let yourself  appreciate – and luxuriate in – the extra quiet and rest.

Thanks, everybody, for reading today. I’m excited to hear what thoughts all of you are bringing to fall this year. Share your inspirations, and enjoy the best of it!

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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