It’s easy to forget how weird we all are.

You spend your days reading this and other health blogs, communing with Primal and keto folks on social media, staying abreast of the nutrition literature, arguing about arcane metabolic minutiae on forums, counting your linoleic acid intake, and you forget that most people don’t know 2% of what you know about diet.

So, when you hear people criticize keto, don’t get exasperated (even if the criticisms are silly). Be ready to respond. And hey, not all criticisms are unfounded. In many cases, wrangling with them will only make you more honest and informed about your diet. Let’s look at some of the more astute keto critiques….

1) Your Brain Needs Glucose, How Do You Even Think?

This isn’t so much wrong as incomplete. Yes, the brain famously needs glucose—but not as much as we’re lead to believe. Once you’re keto-adapted, ketones can provide most of the brain’s energy needs. At max ketone production and adaptation, you’ll still need about 30 grams of glucose for your brain.

Your liver can make about 150 grams of carbohydrates a day from gluconeogenesis, so even if you don’t eat any carbs at all (and you can definitely eat carbs on keto) you’ll still be able to manufacture the requisite 30 grams of glucose.

2) Don’t You Need Carbs for Energy?

The beauty of keto (and low-carb eating in general) is that it leads to low insulin—both fasting and post-prandial (after meals). When your insulin is low, you’re able to access your stored body fat and liberate it to be burned for energy. Since even the leanest among us carry pounds of body fat, that means you have tens of thousands of calories of clean-burning energy available for liberation at any time.

Once you’re keto-adapted, you’ll most likely find that you have steadier energy than before.

3) How Do You Get Fiber?

Actually, there are plenty of ways to obtain fiber on a ketogenic diet. Many of the best sources of prebiotic fiber—the kind that feed and nourish the good gut bacteria living in your digestive tract—are fairly low in digestible carbohydrates and mesh well with keto. For example:

  • Berries
  • Jicama
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Dandelion greens
  • Green bananas (Yes, a green banana is mostly resistant starch, which your body cannot digest.)
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Dark chocolate
  • Almonds and pistachios
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocados

Plenty of fiber in those.

4) How Do You Exercise Without Carbs?

Quite nicely.

There are two primary energy systems used during exercise: aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic energy relies on fat; anaerobic relies on glucose. The better you are at burning fat, the more work you can do while remaining aerobic. This preserves stored glucose (glycogen) for more intense efforts, increasing your overall energy efficiency. Particularly for endurance training, being keto-adapted allows you to utilize greater amounts of stored body fat for energy and reserve glycogen for when you really need it.

And besides, if you do engage in glycolytic, glucose-intensive training, you can always cycle carbs in and around your workout sessions. Your insulin-sensitive muscles will suck up any glucose you consume as glycogen without affecting your insulin levels or your ability to generate ketones and burn fat.

5) Doesn’t All That Fat Give You Heart Disease?

The vast majority of studies placing people on low-carb, high-fat or ketogenic diets find that markers of heart health improve rather than decline.

In obese adults with type 2 diabetes, a ketogenic diet improved blood lipids and boosted fat loss compared to a low-calorie diet.

In lean, healthy adults without any weight to lose (and who didn’t lose any weight during the course of the diet), total cholesterol went up from 159 to 208 mg/dL and triglycerides fell from 107 to 79 mg/dL. A lipophobic doc might freak out at the rise in TC, but given that the triglycerides dropped, I bet the change reflects a rise in HDL and an overall positive, at worst-neutral effect.

Now, do some people see classically-deleterious changes to their blood lipids? Sure. Anything can happen. We’re all different. I talk more about keto and cholesterol effects here. But the weight of evidence shows that becoming fat-adapted through a keto diet is better for your heart health than not.

6) You’re Just Losing Water Weight, Not Fat

Here’s the truth:

Yes, when you go keto and start shedding glycogen from your liver and your muscles, you lose a lot of water. That’s because every gram of glycogen is stored with 3-4 grams of water. Burn the glycogen and you lose the water along with it.

But this glycogen-and-water loss is a prerequisite for losing “real” weight. It’s a harbinger for fat loss. Once the glycogen runs low, that’s when you start getting into deep ketosis and developing the ability to burn massive amounts of body fat for energy.

7) I Heard the Keto Diet Kills Your Gut Bacteria

Ah, yes, I remember that study. They either fed people a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and other foods—or a diet of lunch meat and cheese. Turns out the lunch meat and cheese “keto diet” was bad for the gut biome, increasing gut bacteria linked to obesity and metabolic problems and decreasing gut bacteria linked to health. Of course it was.

A keto diet doesn’t have to consist of bologna and American cheese slices. In fact, it shouldn’t. As I explained in the fiber section, a well-formulated ketogenic diet is full of prebiotic fiber, non-starchy vegetables, and even low-sugar fruit that provide plenty of nourishment for your healthy gut bacteria. What these studies and media stories attack is a caricature of keto, a diet full of processed meat and low quality cheese. They aren’t relevant for someone following a Primal keto diet.

8) Keto Isn’t Sustainable

Well, what do you mean by sustainable?

If you’re talking about the “restrictiveness” of the diet at a personal level, that depends. Sure, you can’t go keto and continue eating Pop Tarts and donuts for breakfast, heaping bowls of pasta for lunch, and fast food burgers (with the bun, at least) and fries with a shake for dinner. But you can eat eggs, bacon, and blackberries for breakfast. You can eat a Big Ass Salad full of a dozen different species of vegetables for lunch. And you can have a ribeye with buttered broccoli for dinner with a glass of wine. I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty damn sustainable way to eat in my book.

If you’re talking about the environment, and worrying about farting cows or whatever, the evidence is quickly accumulating that properly-raised and managed grazing livestock can sequester more carbon than they emit, revitalize (and even de-desertify) grasslands, and produce more calories-per-unit-of-input than conventional pasture-raising. A large portion of the world’s surface isn’t even suitable for growing crops and is better used for grazing animals. The environmental sustainability of meat-eating is still an open question, but the popular conception of “meat bad, grains good” is completely incorrect and incomplete.

What other keto criticisms have you encountered in the wild? Leave them down below, and thanks for stopping in today, everyone.

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References:

Hussain TA, Mathew TC, Dashti AA, Asfar S, Al-zaid N, Dashti HM. Effect of low-calorie versus low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in type 2 diabetes. Nutrition. 2012;28(10):1016-21.

Phinney SD, Bistrian BR, Wolfe RR, Blackburn GL. The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: physical and biochemical adaptation. Metab Clin Exp. 1983;32(8):757-68.

The post 8 Comebacks For Keto Criticisms appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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Today’s post was inspired by a question that came in from a reader who is struggling with depression and body image issues after having children. I asked my colleague Dr. Lindsay Taylor, being a psychologist and a mother herself, to step in.

Having witnessed all the wondrous changes that women’s bodies go through during and after pregnancy with my wife Carrie, I’d like to add my support and encouragement to my readers who struggle with these issues.

This post is for all the mamas and mamas-to-be who are struggling with the ways in which their bodies have changed, grown, stretched, and been marked by pregnancy. For you mothers who have suffered a loss, I see you, and you are included here.

It’s really a shame, but not a surprise, that so many women are plagued by negative body image around pregnancy. A strong predictor of negative body image during and after pregnancy is negative body image before pregnancy. Body image is, of course, something so many people struggle with every day, women in particular. Volumes have been written about the ways in which our cultural standards of attractiveness, media and social media, and social factors conspire to make us feel unattractive, unworthy, and dissatisfied with our bodies. That doesn’t need to be rehashed here.

Then when you’re pregnant, you and everyone around you is hyper-focused on your body. Are you gaining the “right” amount of weight? Eating the right things? Moving in the right way? Strangers are commenting on your size and shape, and probably touching you too. (PSA: Don’t do this.)

Some women love this time and revel in the changes their bodies undergo. Other women feel completely alienated from and even disgusted by their bodies. Probably many women feel different and conflicting emotions at different times. No matter what your experience has been, let me assure you that it’s normal. The whole gamut of experiences is normal and valid.

If you feel confused, conflicted, sad, disappointed, or discouraged about the ways your body has changed because of pregnancy, it’s OK. Your body is different, your relationship to it is different. There is no right or wrong here. My goal for today is to help if you do feel distressed by persistent feelings of negative body image and self-worth after pregnancy. It needs to be addressed. Poor body image correlates with symptoms of postpartum depression (it’s not clear that one necessarily causes the other, but some data suggest that poor body image predicts later depression). This can interfere with your relationships with others, including your partner and, very importantly, your baby.

Sometimes when we talk about this, the first reaction is, “Great, I already feel like &%$! about myself, and now I feel worse because my feelings are going to mess up everything.” That’s not it. Most of all, you simply deserve to feel good about yourself. You deserve to have peace with your body. You don’t need to waste your precious mental energy on tearing yourself down. For many women, their postpartum body image issues are extensions of lifelong feelings of insecurity. Let’s interrupt the cycle now.

Accepting Your Postpartum Body

Most people who want to change how they feel about their bodies take the approach of trying to change their bodies. This rarely works. Postpartum bodies (and bodies in general) often don’t respond how we want, and anyway many of us have constructed ideal body images in our minds that aren’t realistic.

If you want to change how you feel about your body, you should be working on how you feel about your body. There is a lot of well-meaning messaging in the meme-o-sphere about how you should love your body, but I prefer to start with appreciating your body and practicing self-compassion and self-care. If you’re ready to jump right to self-love, by all means go for it! However, this can feel daunting for some women who are stuck in a cycle of self-deprecation and even self-loathing.

The first step in all this is acceptance: accepting the fact that you probably can’t control the size and shape of your body right now, not like diet culture tells you that you can. Yes, there are some women who “bounce back” and flash their postpartum abs in magazines and on Instagram, but they aren’t the norm. Your body is in recovery. If you’re nursing, it’s focused on continuing to keep another human alive. You probably aren’t sleeping, and you might be finding the transition more stressful than you anticipated. Even months or longer down the road, these can still apply. This is hardly the ideal scenario for controlled weight loss.

Moreover, the truth is that your body probably won’t look the same ever again. Even if you go back to wearing your pre-pregnancy clothes, your shape will likely be different. You’ll probably be sporting some new stretch marks. The idea that you can and should “get your body back” is unrealistic and unfair for most women. (Health is something different here.) Your body has done something new and fabulous. It’s not the same body it was.

It’s O.K. to feel sad about that at first. It’s O.K. to mourn the loss of your pre-baby body even while you also appreciate and respect the hell out of your body for growing another human. Denying those feelings or, worse, feeling guilty for them and spiraling into self-criticism and shame doesn’t help. Be open and honest with yourself, and talk to other people who will listen non-judgmentally.

I can’t stress enough that you should ask for help if you need it. If your partner or your friends can’t give you the support you need, or you just feel like you need an impartial ear, find a therapist who specializes in body acceptance and postpartum issues (including depression, even if you don’t think you are depressed, since they are so often linked).

I hear some of you saying, “There is just no way I could ever get to a place where I accept, let alone like, this body.” If you’re feeling too mired down in self-negativity to believe that this is for you, consider this: Self-acceptance allows you to care for yourself and the other people in your life. Imagine if you could model a healthy, happy self-image for your baby as he or she grows. Which of your friends would benefit from someone who speaks in body-positive language and who models self-compassion? How would your partner respond if you could believe that you are sexy and deserving of physical affection?

You don’t owe it to other people to work on yourself if you’re not ready, but sometimes a little outside motivation is what gets the gears turning when the inner motivation is hidden under layers of fear, shame, or self-doubt.

Steps You Can Take

Have I mentioned that I strongly advise anyone who is struggling with mental health and well-being to seek professional help? Good, and I’m saying it again for the record. Therapy rocks.

Self-appreciation, self-compassion, and self-care are things we all deserve and we can actively cultivate. I recommend checking out the book Self-compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff, Ph.D., as a starting point.

Quit Negative Self-talk: As I’m sure you know, we are usually our own worst critics. We say hateful, belittling things to ourselves that we would never say to someone else. If you want to deal with negative body image, this has to stop.

When you find your inner voice saying something self-critical, interrupt it and replace the disparaging comment with one that expresses kindness and compassion. Mantras and affirmations can be helpful here. (If you think they’re cheesy, humor me and give it a try.) The trick is to find one that feels authentic to you. One that I like, which I found here, is: I will accept that my body may never be exactly the same as it was before I had the baby, just as my heart will never be the same. Some others you might try are: I deserve to treat myself with kindness and respect, I am learning to be gentle with myself, or My body is beautiful and deserves all the love I can give it. It’s O.K. if you don’t quite believe it yet; still say it whenever a negative thought intrudes.

You can also actively redirect your attention from how your body looks to how it feels. Maybe you actually enjoy the feeling of softness is new places. Maybe pregnancy and childbirth made you feel powerful. When a negative thought appears, crowd it out with Hell yes, this body is strong and capable and awesome.

Again, if this feels forced at the beginning, that’s all right! Body positivity and self-acceptance take work. Many things feel awkward when they’re new, but over time they become second nature.

Negative Body Talk with Others: As a veteran member of multiple moms’ groups, I know that when a group of moms gets together, more often than not we end up kvetching about our bodies. I think social support from other moms is hugely important, but if I could go back in time to when my kids were babies, I’d really try to shut down the self-deprecating body talk.

If you have friends who do this, speak up! Honestly, this is a gift to the other women as well. Complaining about our mom bods is such a common form of bonding, sometimes we need permission to break the cycle. Try, “I’ve noticed we spend a lot of time criticizing ourselves, but I think we are all strong and beautiful rockstar moms. I’ve started a personal project to try to stop negative self-talk and replace it with compliments. What if we tried that here?”

And by all means, if there are other people in your life—family, your partner, co-workers—who try to engage you in body or diet/exercise talk that perpetuates your bad feelings, shut it down. Boundaries are fantastic; draw them often.  

Of course, I’m not suggesting you suppress your emotions. Find a friend or counselor you can talk to about your feelings, one who won’t respond with, “Ugh, I know! My belly button looks like a Shar Pei too, I hate it. That’s why I started this new diet, have you heard of it?” Processing and dealing with your feelings is one thing. Using language that keeps you stuck in a cycle of body hatred is something else altogether. You can tell the difference.

Curate Your Social Media: Think about the images you see on your social media. Are they mostly #fitspo accounts that depict a narrow range of what it means to be “healthy” and “fit?” If so, consider seeking out the many people who are spreading the word that bodies of different sizes and shapes can be strong, healthy, and attractive. Find other women who are at your stage of motherhood and who are also promoting positive self-image.

Move Your Body: Your body is so much more than what it looks like! Move for the joy of movement and to connect with your body on a physical level. Exercise to feel strong and powerful, not to try to force your body to “lose the baby weight.” Movement should be self-care, not punishment.

Wear Clothes That Fit: Dress up your body in clothes that fit rather than hiding in too-big clothes or squeezing into uncomfortably small clothes.

Step Off the Scale: I know this is a hard one for a lot of people, but if your daily mood depends on the number on the scale each morning, this is bad for your well-being. You don’t need to be aware of the daily fluctuations in order to take care of yourself.

Other Forms of Self-care: The sky’s the limit here! Let someone watch the baby while you take a nap or go for a coffee date with your partner. Get a pedicure. Ignore the laundry and watch a TV show. Taking care of your emotional well-being and feeling more positive overall can help you avoid the negative self-talk trap.

How You Can Help Support a Mom

If there’s a mom in your life whom you want to support, a good way to start is by not commenting on her body, period. (This is a good policy in general.) “You’ve lost weight!” is generally considered a compliment, but sometimes people lose weight because they’re ill or depressed. Plus, it draws attention to her body and reinforces the notion that she must be hoping and trying to lose weight. Better ways to engage her in conversation: Ask how she is feeling, and express excitement about the baby. Ask her if there is anything she needs. Offer to bring her coffee or a meal, go for a walk together, or watch the baby so she can shower or run to the store.

Resources for Finding Help and Support

If you feel like you could use help or support in this area, please don’t be afraid to ask. Below are some resources that cater to postpartum women specifically. There are also some great individuals and organizations that promote body positivity and self-care more generally.

Postpartum Health Alliance

Postpartum Support International

Pacific Postpartum Society

After the Baby is Born: A Postpartum Series — A collection of photos and commentary from new moms as part of The Honest Body Project.

“It’s also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that’s sitting right here right now… with its aches and it pleasures… is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.” – Pema Chödrön

“Treat yourself as if you already are enough. Walk as if you are enough. Eat as if you are enough. See, look, listen as if you are enough. Because it’s true.” – Geneen Roth

Thanks for stopping in today, everybody. Comments, questions, experiences to share? Include them on the comment board below, and have a great end to the week. Take care.

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I know we missed Valentine’s Day, but I’ve always said love cannot be contained. Besides: People are always going on dates. People are always searching for new ways to break out of the regular mold, which is completely understandable. Dates are try-outs. You’re spending time with another person to determine how they fit into your life. Unconventional dates that branch out from “dinner, movie, drinks” into more adventurous, creative realms provide excellent feedback for making that determination.

Dates are also a way for established couples to keep things fresh and exciting, to keep the relationship moving. There’s no better way than to try something new.

As it happens, most work for friends, too.

Now, some of these dates are silly or out-of-left field. Some are more serious. And one is a Primal Costanza date—what not to do. But regardless, they are all worth exploring. And—as always—I’d love to hear what you’d add.

1) Watch a Movie and Fill In the Dialogue

You know that scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are watching a drive-in movie without sound and filling in the dialogue themselves? Do the same thing, only make all the dialogue health and fitness-related. For example, The Empire Strikes Back would work great.

Just before Han is frozen in carbonite, Leia speaks. “I love cold therapy, so many benefits. I can send you the PubMed links.” Han replies. “I know.”

Vader gives Luke the bad news. “Luke, I am a vegan.” “Nooooooooo!”

Pick your favorite movie, and try it out yourselves. Drive-ins aren’t necessary (do they even still have those?); you could just put the T.V. on mute.

2) Couples’ Spa Day

A couple hundreds years ago, you didn’t really go to the doctor. You’d go to a spa. Spas were healing centers erected around natural springs of mineral-rich water. People would bathe in it (many were hot springs), drink it, and engage in other healthy pursuits. Many of today’s most popular bottled mineral waters come from springs that doubled as health spas back in earlier days.

The average person may think of a spa as a pleasure center, a superficial luxury. But getting a massage, soaking in hot mineral water, smearing yourself with mud and/or clay, exposing yourself to extreme temperatures in the sauna, steam room, and cold water pool? These are all objectively healthy and pleasurable experiences with measurable benefits.

Go for a hot soak, followed by a cold plunge. Do the mud bath thing. Get a deep tissue massage. Soak in the salty mineral-rich brine. And do it with your date, as your date.

3) Get Physical

No, not like that (necessarily). I’m talking about doing something physically demanding together, like a yoga session, a tough hike, a Tough Mudder, a Krav Maga class, or even a CrossFit workout.

Intense physical exertion—performed together—increases bonding. You’re sweating, you’re touching, you’re working hard toward a goal. You’re a team. Make it a little dangerous and the juices really flow. For the same reason, going to see a scary movie helps couples get closer.

4) Go Dancing or Take Dance Lessons

Dance is the prelude to closer, more intimate physical contact. And it’s incredibly healthy learning to move with cohesion and fluidity and precision through constantly varying ranges of motion. Dancers are some of the most athletic folks around—think b-boys, ballet dancers, practitioners of modern dance. I’m not a follower of the show, but seriously just look at an episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” for plain evidence of their athleticism.

Go dance, or take dance lessons if you can’t dance yet. If the latter, don’t make this a one-off. Keep the lessons going. Build that skill together. Move together.

Dancing together in your living room to music on your smartphone is completely valid, too.

5) Cook the Farmer’s Market

This is a fun little date to try. Carrie and I used to do this at the Malibu farmer’s market every once in awhile.

Go to every stand, ask the farmer what’s best today, and then buy that item. If your market is huge, you don’t need to buy from every single stand. Try to stick to a dozen stands or so just to keep things manageable.

Be reasonable with the quantities. Otherwise it’ll add up fast. If, say, the farmer recommends the leeks, buy a couple leeks. If it’s cauliflower, buy a head. If it’s strawberries, buy a basket.

Go home and create a meal together using only the things you purchased from the market. Use things like oil/cooking fat, salt, pepper, and spices from home (unless you bought them at the market, in which case you get extra points). If your market doesn’t offer any meat, feel free to incorporate store-bought meat. But do your best to use only things from the market.

Prep and cook it together. There you go, that’s your date.

6) Ten-Mile Date

Walk ten miles, at least. It can be through the city, the suburbs, or the forest. You can stop at stores, cafes, museums along the way—it doesn’t have to be ten miles straight without stopping. But get those ten miles in however you can.

7) Roughhouse

Roughhousing is universal. It’s also great fun. You roughhouse. You wrestle, jostle, poke, prod, but you don’t (ever) hurt each other. You keep things light, engaged, dancing on the edge of intensity. I really like Rafe Kelley’s approach. Check out the one where he and his partner act like their wrists are glued together as they move around, roll, push, and pull. Or where they stand on a large log, clasp hands, and try to pull each other off balance. That stuff is really fun. I’d try any of the videos from that link.

Another is one-legged tug of war. You each stand on one leg, clasp the other’s hand, and attempt to pull the other off balance. If there’s a big weight or strength disparity, have the stronger person stay on one foot and the weaker person use both. Put pillows and other soft landing spaces around your perimeter.

If you’re a man and she’s a woman, there will probably be some strength disparities. Use your better judgement. Keep things fair and competitive and fun.

8) Picnic and a Hike

Think back to all the hikes you’ve done, all the wilderness areas you’ve explored. Were there any perfect picnic spots that jumped out at you? Maybe a dry pebbly shore next to a gurgling creek. Maybe a ring of redwoods. Maybe a grassy meadow. Maybe a beach that only locals know about. If nothing comes to mind, Google one.

Then pack a lunch and get moving.

9) Stand-Up Paddling

I’m extremely biased. Stand-up paddling is probably my favorite activity. It’s training, meditation, adventure, and a fantastic core and rear delt/lat workout all in one. I’ve seen dolphins, manatees, whales, and any number of marine life on my board. I’ve hit the flow state on my board. I’ve finally figured out meditation being on my board. I’ve woken up with some of the most intense DOMS after a long day on my board. My transverse abdominals and obliques have never been stronger. It’s an all-around great time—and it makes a great date. We’re no longer youngsters in love, but Carrie and I have had a lot of good times when I can get her out on a board.

Not everyone has access to a paddle-worthy body of water, although more than you’d think—rivers, lakes, and reservoirs all work with a paddle board, not just the ocean. If you can’t paddle, something similar like kayaking or even cross-country skiing will work well.

10) Lecture Your Date At Dinner

Make sure your date knows exactly how unhealthy everything he or she is putting in her mouth.

When he orders pasta, make a face.

When she fails to confirm that the salad dressing was made with extra virgin olive oil, pull the waiter aside and do it for her.

When he orders the fish, let him know the Monterey Bay rating.

If she gets anything deep-fried, tell her all about how restaurants reuse cooking oil, which (by the way) is most likely very high in unstable polyunsaturated fats.

This will ensure a second date.

That’s it for today, folks. If you try any of these date ideas, let me know how it goes. If you have any other ideas, write them in down below!

Take care.

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It’s about that time of year. Whatever your inclination or creed, whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukah or nothing at all, gift giving is a solid, time-honored way to establish and maintain bonds and friendship, show people you care, and make another person happy (and, as you’ll see after today’s post, healthy). Today I’m going to lay out some of my favorite products. These are purchases I’ve made and loved, gifts I’ve received and given. (And I’m throwing in one of the best deals I’ve ever offered that combines new and old favorites on the Primal scene—but you’ll have to scroll to the end.)

Without further ado, here’s the 2018 Primal Gift Guide.

ChiliPad

Full disclosure from the outset—I’m an investor in this, and I only invest in products, services, and companies that I strongly believe in and use myself. This one I’ve used for about two years now, and it’s made a substantial difference in my sleep. ChiliPads are climate-controlled mattress pads with microtubes of water running through them. Heat the water, and the bed gets warm. Cool the water, and the bed cools off. The Single Zone pad can do one temperature at a time. If you or anyone you know has ever fought with their significant other about the temperature, they need the Dual Zone pad. It has two temperature zones, so the bed can be warm on one side, cool on the other.

Primal Kitchen® Gift Kits

We’ve got a few to offer. Got someone who you know wants to take the dive into keto but doesn’t quite know where to start (or who can’t cook a lick)? Grab them one of the Primal Kitchen Keto Starter kits. They’ll get mayo, dressings, avocado oils, and other delicious products to make eating keto easier, tastier, and healthier. If you’ve got a general foodie on your hands, get the Primal Kitchen Gift Kit, which includes a great chef’s knife and an engraved cutting board with some Primal Kitchen staples.

Instant Pot

For the two or three remaining people who don’t yet have one, an Instant Pot countertop electronic pressure cooker is a must-have. Goes great with the Keto Reset Instant Pot Cookbook.

The JOOVV

This is the best light therapy device I’ve used. It provides both near infrared light and red light that enhance healing, improve collagen production, and boost ATP production. I lay my JOOVV lengthwise on the ground against a wall and lie down next to it for 5-10 minutes a day. That’s plenty.

Xterra Inflatable Standup Paddleboard

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how much I love standup paddling. Anyone with access to a large body of water—the ocean, lakes, rivers, canals, reservoirs—should consider getting a paddleboard. Inflatables are the easiest entry point, and the Xterra is probably the best one around.

Meat Boxes

Buy Ranch Direct is offering free shipping on any order with this link. In addition to the great beef, poultry and pork offerings, they have a killer All-Natural Salami Variety Pack.

Vibram KSO Trek

Vibram just re-released their classic KSO Trek, my favorite model of theirs ever. It’s leather, and I actually wear it as a “dress shoe” with suit and tie (not that I recommend showing up to your big interview in a pair—unless it’s with me), jeans, and pretty much anything else. I keep several in rotation, shifting them to “turf shoe” once they lose their newness. I haven’t used better footwear for playing Ultimate Frisbee.

Alitura Santal Black Oil and/or the Instant Radiance Package

If you know a man looking for a good moisturizer, beard oil, or cologne alternative free of artificial fragrances, look no further than Alitura’s Santal Black Oil. It’s great for women, too, but I’ve found that men respond pretty well to it. Another option for anyone who digs a bit of pampering without leaving the house is the Instant Radiance Package, which offers spa-grade facial treatment.

Redmond Real Salt Kosher Salt

Harvested from ancient Utah sea beds, Redmond Real Salt is loaded with trace micronutrients and great flavor (it’s not just “salty”). If you’re shopping for a serious cook, Redmond Real Kosher Salt should be on your list.

Big Rhino Cleaver

This thing can handle a lot. It won’t quite do a beef femur, but I’ve successfully chopped through pork feet, ribs of all kinds, and lamb bones. Poultry parts part like butter. What’s great is that in addition to the bone-splitting power of the main blade, the upper curve is surprisingly sharp and agile for making smaller, more detailed cuts.

Sous Vide

I’m going to recommend two sous vide products. If you’re shopping for a serious cook who wants permanent sous vide residency on the counter, Dr. Eades’ Sous Vide Supreme is a good purchase. If you’re shopping for someone who just wants to try the sous vide method in several different settings, get the JOULE—an immersion sous vide device that turns any container of water into a sous vide.

AmazonBasics 15″ Cast Iron Skillet

Stumbled across these recently and didn’t even realize Amazon was making cast iron skillets, so I took the plunge. The quality is pretty good. Takes seasoning, gives a good sear. I’ve got mine up to the point where I can scramble eggs without them sticking. I credit lots of bacon and roasted chickens. If 15 inches is too big, they have smaller ones.

Chest Freezer

You can go one of two ways with the chest freezer, both relevant to Primal eaters. Your giftee can use the freezer as a freezer, as a way to stock up on meat or even buy a quarter cow. Your giftee could go the way of Brad Kearns, who keeps a chest freezer full of cold water and hops in it for a few minutes every single morning (***after unplugging the unit). What would I do? Buy the freezer and pass along the article where Brad lays out his use of the chest freezer as a cold plunge tank so whomever receives it can decide.

Eat What You Love: Everyday Comfort Food

This book isn’t out til December 4th, but it’ll definitely arrive in time for the holidays. It’s a great cookbook for people who want to eat the comfort food we all (let’s face it) miss and stay gluten-free, Primal, and dairy-free.

The Whole30 Slow Cooker

No, it’s not a crockpot that instantly turns off whenever a Whole30® non-compliant food is added. It’s a cookbook for Whole30 people who don’t have the time or inclination to slave over a hot stove or pot. For people who want the convenience of tossing a bunch of healthy ingredients into a pot in the morning and coming home to a delicious home-cooked meal.

The Keto Reset Set of Books

What can I say? It’s the ultimate set of resources for understanding the logic of keto and for implementing keto as the healthy, nourishing and delicious diet it can be. Get step by step instructions for making the full transition in The Keto Reset, and enjoy hundreds of amazing recipes you can easily make in your own home kitchen in The Keto Reset Diet Instant Pot Cookbook and the The Keto Reset Diet Cookbook. They will literally change your life.

And Now For the Deal…

The award-winning Primal Connection was my favorite book to write, and it remains the top resource for extending the Primal Blueprint beyond the realm of physical health to encompass everyday peace, prosperity and fulfillment.

It also happens to make a pretty awesome gift…for anyone looking to deepen their Primal commitment or for someone who’s totally new to Primal. (I’ve had a lot of folks tell me over the years that The Primal Connection was their entry point to Primal living.)

To celebrate the gift-giving season—and to highlight the New Primal Kitchen® sauce line, I’m offering one of the best deals I’ve ever put together here.

Buy Classic and Golden BBQ Sauce + Steak Sauce, and I’ll throw in a Classic Primal Kitchen Mayo…plus a copy of The Primal Connection. But hurry—this deal expires 12/7/18 at midnight PST. 

Click through HERE or use code GETSAUCY at checkout on PrimalBlueprint.com.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Primal Connection, here’s a bit about it. Head on over to PrimalBlueprint.com to read an excerpt, too.

Honking horns, loud office chatter and whirring machines batter our ears with incessant noise. Artificial light and digital stimulation overstress our nervous systems day and night. Traffic jams, long lines, interruptions, distractions and big egos pervade daily life in such a manner that we don’t even realize the piece—or rather the peace—that’s gone missing. Mark Sisson, the leading voice in the Evolutionary Health Movement and author of the bestseller The Primal Blueprint, extends the primal theme beyond diet and exercise basics in this much-anticipated sequel. The Primal Connection: Follow Your Genetic Blueprint to Health and Happiness presents a comprehensive plan to reprogram your genes and overcome the flawed mentality and hectic pace of high-tech, modern life so that you can become more joyful, carefree and at peace with the present. You’ll learn to make scientifically validated, highly intuitive connections in all aspects of your life, and emerge with a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures of life and our most precious gifts of time, health and love. The Primal Connection allows you to have it all; you’ll honor your ancient genetic recipe for health while still enjoying the comfort and convenience of modern life.*

Now let’s hear from you. Write in down below with the health and fitness-related gifts you’ll be giving and receiving. I’m always interested in something new.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care.

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The post The 2018 Primal Gift Guide (and One Awesome Book Deal) appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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Next month, Primal Kitchen® will be teaming up with the Whole30® crew to help support people doing the Whole30 program. The guidelines complement the Primal Blueprint, after all, and the Primal Blueprint is a common after-Whole30 approach to long-term vitality for many folks. The Whole30 itself offers incredibly valuable feedback on the effects of certain foods on your health, and it’s an amazing kick-start for turning your diet (and well-being) around. Today I’m offering up my top tips for a successful Whole 30 experience.

1. Eat Enough Food

A Whole30 typically results in inadvertent calorie reduction for multiple reasons. You’re eating more nutrient-dense food, so your body doesn’t feel the need to cram in empty calories in a vain attempt to obtain the necessary vitamins and minerals. You’re probably also eating more fat and protein than before, which are far more satiating than empty, refined carbohydrates. You have steady, even energy throughout the day from better fat burning, and no longer need those glucose infusions called snacks to stay awake.

There is, however, such a thing as too little food. Micronutrients are great and all, but we must also eat for sheer energetic purposes. Calories matter. Don’t shortchange yourself here.

2. Don’t Worry Too Much About Macronutrients

I’m obviously a low-carb guy. For the past dozen or so years, I’ve eaten in the 150 grams or lower range, give or take a few days. For the past three years, I’ve strayed even lower, spending a fair amount of time in ketosis. Most regular people are eating far too many carbohydrates, more than their activity levels and lifestyles warrant, and they would probably do better and be healthier on a lower carb diet. But for the Whole30, I recommend that people not get too dogmatic in either direction and simply focus on the Whole30 guidelines.

Eat what feels right. Stick to the script Melissa has laid out, avoid the foods you should be avoiding, favor the foods you should be favoring, and let the macros fall where they may. Most people will probably end up eating less carbohydrate and more fat and protein, but that isn’t a given. A Whole30 deserves your full attention. Focusing on other dietary variables just detracts from that focus.

3. Enlist a Friend

Before you actually start the Whole30, get a friend, relative, or significant other to join the party. You can support each other. Help with meals. Trade tips. Exercise together. Keep each other honest and true. Offer a needed pep talk now and then. And most importantly, you’ll have someone who’s relying on you to stick with the program. That can really help when things get hard and you start feeling lazy.

4. Treat the Recommendations As Rules

The Whole30 has official rules, and it has recommended guidelines. The rules you know—don’t eat grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, or added sugar; don’t weigh yourself; avoid certain preservatives and food additives; don’t recreate junk food with good ingredients, while the guidelines you may not.

They include:

  • Don’t eat too much fruit.
  • Don’t eat fruit and nut bars.
  • Don’t snack.
  • Choose organic and grass-fed.
  • Limit/avoid smoothies.

While these might feel like overly strict guidelines for a lifetime of eating, for the 30 days that you’re doing the Whole30, following them can offer you even more insight into how your body works and what makes you tick. I strongly suggest that you take these guidelines as rules. You’ll simply get better results. And again, it’s just 30 days. You can do it.

Do you have to? No, of course not. For that matter, you don’t have to follow the Whole30 at all. But given that you have agreed to do it, it’s not much more of a leap to adhere to the guidelines as well.

5. Focus On Legit Meals, Not Snack Foods That Technically Qualify

You could eat two cups of mac nuts, a coconut cream latte, beef jerky, and carrots sticks dipped in guacamole for your entire day’s food intake and still be Whole30. Or you could eat eggs and spinach for breakfast, a Big Ass Salad for lunch, and a grilled steak with asparagus for dinner and fresh nectarines for dessert. Which is the better choice?

Make the better choice. Don’t turn Whole30-compliant snack foods into meals.

6. Keep Salad Makings On Hand At All Times

A salad is just the perfect Whole30 (or any diet, really) meal. It’s a great way to get all your vegetables, plenty of meat and protein and fat, herbs and nuts and seeds. You can even throw in some fruit or starchier veggies, like winter squash or purple sweet potatoes if you want. The salad bowl is simply the ideal canvas for a healthy, enjoyable way of eating. But it does take time to prepare.

Greens: lettuces, baby greens, kale, spinach.

Cooked Meat: sliced steak, roasted chicken, grilled salmon.

Preserved Meat: smoked salmon, smoked oysters, canned tuna.

Chopped Veggies: onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, garlic

Roasted Veggies: all of the above and some of the below

Whole Veggies: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes

Fruits: berries, apples, dried apricots.

Nuts: mac, almond, walnut, pistachio

Seeds: hemp, sunflower, pumpkin

Dressing: Primal Kitchen varieties, oil and vinegar.

That isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a great start. If you have something from every category ready to go, you can whip up a healthy, filling Whole30-compliant meal in under 10 minutes.

7. Show, Don’t Tell

The Whole30 works really well, which make sense as it’s like distilling ancestral eating practices. And when things go well, we want to tell the entire world. Right around the 2-3 week mark is when the lips start flapping of their own accord. It’s hard not to, when you feel so good and (despite dutifully avoiding scales and body fat measurements) look so good.

Feel free to answer questions like “Have you lost weight?” or “Why did you just eat half a roast chicken for breakfast?” or “What’s with all the avocados, dude?” You shouldn’t ignore people. But refrain from actively converting those around you. Don’t stand on street corners with flyers and placards. Don’t take every opportunity to hold mini-lectures at business lunches and midday meetings. This stuff works, it’ll show, and they will come to you. And if they don’t, they aren’t interested, and you should accept that.

Your focus for the 30 days should be on yourself and your progress.

8. Don’t Get Cocky

Stick to the script. You might be feeling good midway through. You might be looking leaner, feeling stronger, like nothing can get you down. You might decide you have some latitude here.

Maybe you need a reward for all your hard work. Maybe you should have a slice with your friends at happy hour. I mean, it’s just pizza, and you’ve come so far in just two weeks, and I bet your gut is healed and tight junctions all secure. Right?

Don’t do it. Stay with the protocol. Follow the rules. Two weeks isn’t enough to “clear the system.” You’ll start back at square one and squander all the hard work you’ve done. Thirty days is not too much to ask, and the amount of data you can gain from doing the full Whole30 as prescribed can have positive reverberations for the rest of your life.

We’re all adults here. Exert some free will (or act as if you have free will, if you’re the deterministic type)

Don’t get cocky (yet).

9. Stock Your Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer For Emergencies

Disaster strikes, and we need to be ready. I’m not even talking about true disasters—hurricanes, earthquakes, zombie apocalypses. I mean traffic jams, 5 o’clock meetings, parent-teacher conferences, after-school gymnastics classes, and the simple crushing weight of banal responsibility that can impede our ability to get fresh meals on the table. It’s good to be prepared with something healthy and fast. And sure, a growing number of restaurants and grocery stores are offering convenient Primal-friendly fare, but eating out adds up quickly. Here’s what I suggest:

In your freezer, keep some frozen ground beef, a few quarts of bone broth, a medley of frozen veggies, and a few filets of frozen fish.

In the pantry, keep sardines, tuna, smoked oysters, beef jerky.

In the fridge, keep cooked (and cooled) potatoes and yams, peeled winter squash, asparagus (lasts about a week if fresh), and a hearty leafy green (kale, chard, etc). Eggs, too, and maybe a roasted chicken or roasted leg of lamb.

With those foods, you can have a solid meal on the table in 10-15 minutes.

10. Don’t Neglect All the Other Stuff

The Whole30 is all about diet. It’s a complete overhaul of how most people eat, so it pays to make that the entire focus. But the other stuff, the various lifestyle factors that we talk about all the time on Mark’s Daily Apple, don’t stop affecting your health. Heeding the other variables will make your Whole 30 experience go more smoothly anyway.

For example, your Whole30 will go better if you get to bed at a reasonable time each night and practice good sleep hygiene.

Your Whole30 will go better if you move every day and train hard a few times each week.

Your Whole30 will go better if you spend time with friends, family, and loved ones. Enjoy good Whole30 meals, but also don’t forget to enjoy life.

That’s it for today, folks. Those are my tips for making the most of a Whole30 experience. What are yours? Take care.

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The post Mark’s Top 10 Tips for Getting Through a Whole30® appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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Primal is simple, but it’s not exactly easy. At every turn, detractors and temptations appear. We have health authorities telling us we’re killing ourselves. Worried friends and family sharing news articles decrying the consumption of fat and meat and promoting wholly plant-based diets. Food companies employ food chemists to engineer delicious processed junk that hijacks our brains’ reward systems, making food that’s addictive on a biochemical level. It’s going to take a mix of concrete, tangible tactics and psychological tricks to stick with Primal.

Plan Your Meals Each Week

The modern world excels at rewarding poor planning. Its whole appeal revolves around convenience. It’s always tugging at us, leaving hints, suggesting easy ways to go astray. When you’re just starting on this Primal journey and things aren’t quite second nature…(like finishing your first 21-Day Challenge).

No time to make dinner? Grab a happy meal!

In the grocery line with your meat and produce? Hey, check out this 40 ounce sack of fried potato slices; bet you could finish half of it on the drive home!

Every week, plan your meals. Go shopping, get what you need, and have things ready to go. Keep a clean kitchen, so you can launch into cooking without fretting over dirty pots and dishes.

Look At Your “Before” Photos

You got into this Primal stuff for a reason. If you’ve seen benefits, lost body fat, improved body composition, gotten noticeably stronger and fitter, go back and look at those old photos. Look at yourself and remember. Immerse yourself in what it felt like before you went Primal.

Realize that it will all come flooding back if you go back to your old ways.

Think Of the Worst That Could Happen

A lot of things can go wrong in life. Many things will go wrong. But we don’t have to hasten the disintegration of absolutely everything. All the recommendations I make in the Primal Blueprint and on this blog are designed to reduce your chances of being reduced to that terrible situation. Read those words, feel them, and imagine yourself in that situation. Not great, is it? So, how about you stick with the program?

Imagine everything that could go wrong health-wise. Imagine you’re 20 years older than you are now. You’re on a slew of medications. Your monthly checkup with your cardiologist is the closest thing you have to a friend. You have a weight set, but it sits unused amidst the ruins of the great spider kingdoms that have come and gone over the years. Your bones are porous, your arteries are clogged, your blood sugar runs high, your heart rate stays elevated. Your muscles are marbled, your mind is foggy. Remember that each choice—including the one before you right now—has the power to determine your future scenario.

Realize That Perfect Is Not the Goal

Many people have the idea that going Primal is a life sentence of ascetic purity. That’s a big misconception. Actually, these are just guidelines. Recommendations. Modes of eating, living, and being that, from my reading of the scientific literature and experience coaching people, help a lot of people get healthier, fitter, leaner, and happier. But it all exists on a spectrum. It isn’t “all or nothing.”

Eating some rice won’t derail the whole train.

Skipping a week of training won’t dissolve your gains.

Even eating a french fry cooked in the most rancid of seed oils won’t imbue your adipose tissue with permanently imbalanced omega-3/omega-6 ratios (not that I’d recommend it, but still).

Unless you’re celiac or truly gluten-sensitive, ingesting a bite of gluten probably won’t perforate your gut lining and open you up to a month’s worth of bacterial endotoxins and allergens.

A date won’t set you back to square one on the keto journey.

Some heeled dress shoes are perfectly fine for a wedding or the office. They won’t ruin your feet or posture.

It’s not about Primal perfection. It’s about making the guidelines work for you to push your health and happiness forward.

Don’t Forget the 80/20 Rule

This dovetails nicely with the previous tip. The 80/20 rule is a built-in “get out of jail free” card. It’s not an actual, literal card, although that’s certainly an idea if an entrepreneur wants to get in on that. It’s the formal acknowledgement that if you do the right (healthy, Primal, keto, etc.) thing 80% of the time, you’ll be doing better than 95% of the population and garnering the majority of the benefits we can expect from living healthy.

What’s 80/20 look like?

It doesn’t mean eating fast food every fifth meal. It doesn’t mean eating 1/5 of a birthday cake. It means giving yourself some slack. It means realizing that you work hard, you eat well most of the time, and it’s okay if you slip up and have a beer or a few bites of pizza at the end of a long week.

The 80/20 rule helps prevent you from heaping additional guilt and stress and despair over a single bad choice onto the first order effects of the choice. It cements the reality that you’re going to be okay.

Join a Gym

If you think you hate the gym, you probably haven’t been in awhile. No longer must you do the globo=gym thing, where staff members frown at you for deadlifting and everyone’s preening for the mirrors. You can try CrossFit. You could try parkour. You could try BJJ or Pilates or kickboxing. You could find a great personal training gym, interview the owners and trainers, and find someone who melds well with your personality and goals. You can try FitWall. There are thousands of movement options out there. The point is throwing down the money and investing in yourself.

When you put down money, you put skin in the game. Rather than lose your sunk cost, you’ll be more likely to follow through and stick with it.

Buy New Cooking Equipment

Are you trying to cook incredible meals in damaged teflon skillets? Sear steaks on lightweight aluminum pans? Julienne vegetables with a blunt chef’s knife that hasn’t been sharpened since the 80s? Get yourself some quality equipment. You don’t need to drop $500 or anything close to that.

Grab a cast iron pan for searing steaks. Some heavy stainless steel pots and pans. A dutch oven for braising, if you do that sort of thing. Consider an Instant Pot. A decent chef’s knife. Maybe a small, simple food processor if chopping vegetables is keeping you from enjoying Big-Ass salads. It doesn’t take much, and it will make cooking that much more pleasurable (and effective).

Pick One Thing and Start There

Getting your entire lifestyle back on track is daunting. What, you expect a person to overhaul how they eat, move, consume electronics at night, interact with the sun, supplement, and sleep right away? Some people can do that no problem, but many people find it an intimidating prospect.

Just pick one thing, do it well, and see the dominos start to fall in other areas. Purge your pantry. Ditch grains and seed oils. Start walking every day. Get back into barbell training. Go to sleep at the same time every night. Doing all those things would be great—and not as hard as you think—but even just one will make a big difference.

Get a Friend Involved

Getting a friend to join you in sticking with the Primal way of life is a simple and effective way to keep you engaged. The hardest part is breaking through the resistance and mustering the willpower to enlist the friend. Then, once you’ve both agreed to do the thing, you have to do it. Neither of you wants to let the other person down. As social animals, we value the input and opinions of others. Especially when those others are close to us.

You could do family, like you mom, your brother, or your spouse, but in my experience those relationships can get testy real fast. Friendships are more durable, in a way. It’s usually easier to get strict and abrasive when required with your friend than it is with your husband or wife.

Go Hardcore

Some people can’t go all-in at once. They sputter and fail, and would be better served just picking one thing at a time (as I mentioned above). But some people thrive when they overhaul their entire lives. That’s how I am—I didn’t just change how I ate when I developed the Primal Blueprint. I changed how I ate, slept, exercised, and lived in general.

Maybe you’re going too cautiously. Maybe you need to go all in.

Work With a Primal Health Coach

Primal Health Coaches are well trained to help you hit your goals, work through tough sticking points, solve problems, and motivate you. This is quite literally their job. They combine motivational power with a strong knowledge base, so whether you have a motivation problem or a knowledge problem, they can help.

Hiring a Primal Health Coach also gives you that skin in the game effect—with a literal voice on the other end. For some people, that level of accountability is the linchpin.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to get yourself back on track. This is the list of ways I find most effective at getting others, and even myself, back on track after an extended hiatus, or sticking with it when doubt begins creeping in.

What are your favorite ways to stick with Primal?

Thanks for reading, all. Take care.

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Humans are a tribal species. We form alliances, align ourselves along ethnic, familial, religious, and cultural lines. Still, for the vast majority of people, “tribal” carries a negative connotation. Bitter partisan politics, ethnic genocides, religious wars, and the long history of bigotry make that connotation almost unavoidable. But I don’t think tribal in its true essence is all bad. The basic instinct to form and belong to groups is a simple fact of human physiology. It’s how we work, so we’d better make it work for us.

Remember, I err on the side of evolution. If human evolution has produced and maintained a characteristic or behavior, there’s probably a reason for it. And maybe that reason doesn’t make sense in the modern world. It gets distorted or magnified. Tribalism certainly can. But it can be equally detrimental to ignore that characteristic, to brush it off and discard it. We don’t have to perform hard physical labor to procure food anymore—but exercise is still vital for our health. My guess is the same holds true for our predilection toward tribalism. And it doesn’t have to look like you think it might….

Research shows that one kind of tribe—diehard sports fans— see physiological benefits when their teams compete, such as boosts to testosterone and increased empathy. Sports fans even have a higher-than-average sense of meaning in their lives, something many modern humans lack. Sure, you might say “pro sports don’t matter in the long run,” but who cares? The point is that sports fandom is a healthy, safe, and decidedly non-genocidal mode of tribalism that appears to confer health benefits to those who participate.

Imagine the potential benefits of leveraging your tribal leanings toward a truly healthy, meaningful endeavor?

CrossFit is the perfect example.

It doesn’t have to be CrossFit exactly, but one of those special kinds of gyms whose inhabitants aren’t headphone-wearing individuals doing their own thing, in their own world. CrossFit struck such a chord not only because it offered a great workout, but because it offered a tribe.

You didn’t just show up to a CrossFit box and “train back and biceps” with your headphones on. You and your tribe battled the clock, the iron, yourselves. You entered a place where motivation drips from the ceiling. Where a lot of the stuff I talked about in this article—having rules that remove decision-making from the equation, competing against others (and yourself), achieving intrinsic rewards—comes baked into the experience. Where you don’t have to muster the willpower to start and complete a workout because your tribe is there doing it and ushering you on to join in and give it your all. You get swept away by the pull of your CrossFit tribe—and you’re better off for it.

There’s actual research to back this up, not just conjecture.

A recent study found that CrossFit participants experience more intrinsic motivation related to group affiliation, personal challenge, and outright enjoyment of the activity—and that this experience can increase adherence compared to other types of resistance training.

In perhaps the only systematic review and meta-analysis of CrossFit research to date, researchers concluded that “CrossFit practice is associated with higher levels of community, satisfaction, and motivation.” They have a tribe and don’t want to let them down.

Fitness, in general, benefits from the tribal effect.

The solitary yogi doing impossible stretches with serene countenance as the sun rises is a romantic ideal, but who actually does that? Yoga isn’t exactly pleasant. It’s hard. It can hurt. It’s tough to get yourself motivated to do a full session at home. Get yourself in a legit yoga studio and suddenly you’re on the mat and it’s 98° and before you know it you’re downward dogging your way to nirvana.

Or the Tough Mudder/Mud Run/Spartan Race genre of extreme athletic event. Running barefoot across electrified barbed wire, plunging headfirst into a trough of mud and urine, getting frostbite, ruining your clothes, and paying a couple hundred bucks for the opportunity doesn’t sound very appealing on paper. But allow participants to form teams with their friends and compete against other teams, and the event sells out.

Don’t forget that some of the most traditional forms of fitness practice around—team sports—are entirely based on tribalism. You have a “team.” You’re competing against another group of individuals who’ve also coalesced around a similar concept of organization. You have uniforms, team colors, team slogans, special chants and cheers. You run plays, tactical maneuvers designed to overcome the defenses your opponents have laid out. You function as a unit. For the 60 minutes or so of game time, the tribe takes precedence over the individual. Joining an adult sports league might be a great way to add value, meaning, and fitness to your life.

Dietary affiliations are tribal, too. Primal is absolutely a tribe. Keto is a tribe. Vegetarianism and veganism are absolutely tribes.

This can easily go awry. If you get locked into the dogma of your particular dietary tribe, you may tune out dissenting evidence from other tribes, however valuable and applicable. That’s why I’ve always emphasized open mindedness and the importance of reading outside sources and maintaining the willingness to change your mind in the face of new information. That quality comes baked into the Primal way of living, eating, and thinking. It’s part of our “dogma.”

Whatever dietary tribe you belong to, consider incorporating that feature into your ideology. I highly recommend it.

And if you’re interested specifically in becoming closer to the Primal tribe, there are plenty of ways.

The Facebook Groups

Facebook can be the place where you argue with friends and family about things that don’t even matter, or it can be the place where you find your Primal tribe.

In all these groups, the beauty is that each member is a real person with a real name, and everyone is supportive. So rather than bother all the other people in your life with chatter about ideal sun exposure times and cauliflower carb counts and “180 minus age,” you can connect with people who get it, and get you.

Come To an Event

If you haven’t made it to a Paleo f(x), you have to do it. First of all, it’s in Austin, one of the best (and most paleo/Primal-friendly) cities in the country. The BBQ is out of this world, if nothing else. Second, it’s a meeting of the top thought leaders in ancestral health, both established and upcoming. Great place to hear about new ideas and new angles on old ones. Third, you’ll be with your people. Your tribe.

If you do go, come say hi, cause I’ll definitely be there.

Become a Primal Health Coach

The ultimate way to find a tribe is to become the leader of one and create your own. There’s no better path to leadership in the Primal arena than becoming a legitimate expert, someone who can help others build better lifestyles and construct diets and training regimens. It’s amazing how little most people understand about health, diet, and fitness. If you know what you’re talking about and throw yourself into the business of health and fitness, you’d be surprised at the incredible changes you can effect in your clients—and how close you’ll become with them.

How a tribe helped your quest for better health? Or are you looking for one? (Post-challenge is the perfect time to tap into supports that keep you going….) What does the perfect health tribe look like to you?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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A couple weeks ago I asked for ideas for our Primal Health Coaches—what questions have you ever wanted to ask a Primal Health Coach? Many of you wrote in, and I loved reading your ideas. There were so many excellent thoughts I couldn’t begin to include them all here. (Luckily, our coaches might join us for a future post.)

So, sit back and take a look at what our Primal Health Coaches have to say about meal plans, cardio classes, behavior change, physician recommendations, their Primal Health Coach Institute experience, and more!

Question #1, from Jeannie: “Do you make customized, individual plans for every client? What does that encompass? Also, what resources do you use as a Primal Health Coach that allows you to provide support for your many clients?”

“The framework for the Primal lifestyle is the same for everyone, and most people will get really far with the basic template. Initially my goal is to help my client get the baseline set, see what changes, and then make adjustments from there. My suggestions are tailored to each client and the goals they wish to reach. While I do supply handouts for the first month I don’t for the additional months because any changes that are made are usually small. I know many people like meal plans but I don’t think they promote long term success. Meal plans can help give a client ideas, but that rarely translates into generating meal ideas on one’s own. In my opinion it can often lead back to old habits, because nothing was really learned.”
Jen Essary

“I approach all clients from an individual perspective in order to meet them where they are. We work together to come up with their top three health goals, and then narrow this down to one that they can most easily be successful with in order to motivate them to move on to the next. I rely on many of the resources I’ve gained from the Primal Health Coach course, as well as my years of experience working as a personal trainer.”
Regina Barak

“I do not customize. My service offers the opportunity to achieve optimal health. Healthy people tend to reach their ideal weight, and experience less disease and sickness; and healthy people tend to avoid chronic disease. I have to ensure all aspects of a healthy lifestyle are put into effect for a total life transformation. Most people will say they already eat right, exercise correctly or live a stress-free lifestyle. But missing any one of these factors will sabotage the overall goal of optimum health.”
Ron Drillen

“I will usually ask for food preferences and offer a selection of about 21 meals to try to add to their repertoire. I share all of my favorite food bloggers whose recipes I trust, so they can explore and make their own choices.”
Roxann Morello

“Hi Jeanine. The quick answer is, no, I do not make customized meal plans for each client. I work alongside the client to develop a weekly meal strategy. When a client goes into the week with a strategy (what to eat, and why), they tend to be more likely to stick with it. For me the best approach is to talk through the personal and work challenges in the week ahead. Are there going to be a few long nights at work? Is there a kids’ practice or game that will keep them out later, or unable to make a full meal? We work together to identify the strategy that will work best for those specific scenarios. I believe weekly meal plans certainly have a place, but they should not be given without a real strategy in place for the week.”
Steven Konsdorf

“I make a customized plan with every client. I have clients fill out an intake form a few days before our first session. When we meet, we can discuss their specific answers, goals, and visions of health, and begin forming a plan to get there. We move forward each week with their individual plan. During our coaching sessions, clients often bring something they want to discuss; a favorite book or article, or a recipe. We dissect it together and find ways it can fit into their Primal lifestyle. I use all kinds of resources! I love the Tendencies quiz by Gretchen Ruebin to help client learn about how they deal with internal and external expectations. I have blogs, podcasts and books I use and recommend, and also a lending library of books and cookbooks for my clients. One of my favorite resources is the supportive network of Primal Health Coaches. I can ask anything of these great people and I get brilliant ideas back! I love resources, learning and sharing new ideas. It’s my favorite aspect of coaching!”
Sara Baird

“In many cases, developing customized meal plans is actually out of scope of practice for health coaches. Health coaches are advocates for behaviour change… and I can tell you from experience that very few people ever established a new behaviour (and had it stick!) from following a prescribed meal plan. As a Primal Health Coach, I take my clients on a journey of education: so they can learn and understand WHAT foods support them and – this is the important part – WHY. The entire goal is to eventually graduate ciients from my care, and I need to feel confident that they know how to feed themselves in the absence of a meal plan. I supply my clients with a comprehensive Foods To Use and Foods To Lose list, and let them make meals they love, in whatever configuration they like.”
Erin Power

Question #2, from Julia: “I like taking 45-60 mins long spin classes. But, my heart rate gets VERY high. It’s definitely not slow and steady cardio and the class drills are a bit long to qualify as sprints. When or how do I work these workouts in to a primal lifestyle?”

“I have so many questions about this scenario. How often are you taking these classes? How do you feel afterwards? How are your sugar cravings? Are you starving after class? Do you have weight loss goals? What are your goals? From what you have written it sounds like you’re training in the “black hole.” The heart rate might not be high enough to qualify as high intensity, especially with the length of the class. It also isn’t low enough to be aerobic. My advice would be to limit the frequency of these classes. Mark has several articles about heart arrhythmias and chronic cardio which you can reference. For endurance training and fat burning purposes you’d come out ahead by keeping your heart rate below 180-age (Maffetone equation). I’d recommend working with one of the coaches who has taken the Primal Endurance Mastery Course if racing is one of your goals.”
– Jen Essary

“If you love the spin class, keep it up! It’s great to have fun! Just perhaps allow yourself more sweet potatoes, fruit, sleep, and more rest days! You could try phase training: do 80% spin and 20% cross training for 3 weeks; then switch to 80% cross training and 20% spin class for 3 weeks weeks; and so on. Using the methods outlined in Primal Endurance, you could also emphasize more slow workouts until your aerobic base can support your current speed in spin class.”
Matt Zastrow

“Hi Julie, I would ask you to think about the goal of the class. Why are you doing this specific class? Is it for fat loss? If so, then there are potentially better ways to accomplish that with less stress on the body. Are you taking the class because it fits your schedule? Again, there are certainly other options with less stress that can be done for those 45-60 minutes. Are you taking the class because you enjoy it? If this is the answer then good for you and don’t stop. If you truly enjoy the spin class and it matches the goals you have then keep doing, but be strategic about it. Keep the spin class to once or twice a week. Leave several days in between classes to adequately recover. You can certainly have a spin class, but stay smart about it so that it fits your Primal lifestyle.”
Steven Konsdorf

“Fellow group fitness junkie here; and I’m a spin instructor too! First of all, that moderate-to-high intensity effort, sustained for an entire hour, is typically what we’d refer to as being in the “black hole” of intensity: not easy enough to be easy, but not hard enough to be hard. If you love it, then continue to do it, but consider scaling back to two a week. And add in some low-and-slow stuff (like walking), and some short-and-sharp stuff (like lifting weights and sprinting) to ensure you’re getting the optimal fitness and gene expression benefits from your time spent in the gym. And don’t forget recovery!”
Erin Power

Question #3, from Rosie: “What strategies would you recommend for breaking/replacing bad habits like eating at certain times not out of hunger but out of habit?”

“First I would ask how long you’ve been primal and what your current eating habits look like? If you’re relatively new to primal you may not be fully fat adapted. If you’ve been primal for awhile then I’d want to know more about your level of insulin sensitivity, any previous health challenges, and what a typical food day looks like for you right now. I would want to explore with you the origins of eating out of habit. Where does that belief come from? When did it begin? Are you misinterpreting a signal for something like thirst as a prompt to eat? My job as a coach is to help you explore these kinds of questions about your habits and challenges. When you understand the origins and the whys it makes it easier to re-frame that habit and make a new choice.”
Jen Essary

“I would suggest you create a food diary for one week so we could take a look at what kind of food you are eating. For instance, a diet consisting of processed foods and starchy carbs does not satisfy hunger, and leaves the brain wanting more. In that case we would discuss how carb dependency creates a cycle of needing more carbs from both a psychological point of view and a physical dependency as well. It’s a process, but we would establish small goals so you’re not feeling deprived along the way.”
Regina Barak

“More often than not, regimented eating schedules are a project of societal and/or workplace guidelines as to when you are “supposed” to take your lunch break. Most of us get indoctrinated into this behaviour from a very young age, and becomes a very strong habit that is hard to retrain. One effective tool to use to tell if you are truly hungry or just experiencing cravings out of boredom or habit, is to ask yourself: “Would I like to eat an hard-boiled egg right now?” If the answer is yes, you are hungry and should go eat some real food (like a hard boiled egg!). If the answer is no, you may be falling victim to (sugar) cravings and old habits that play tricks on you.By making yourself aware of what current state you are actually in, it can help provide you with the willpower to stay clear of the cravings, and making an informed decision of a more healthy choice.”
Jonas Drott

“Great question, Rosie! Eating out of habit instead of out of hunger is something I’ve struggled with as well. First, I would figure out the real reason for eating while not actually hungry. What started that habit in the first place? Are you bored, tired, anxious, stressed, etc? Second, I’d encourage you to replace the “bad” habit with a healthier one, like drinking water or unsweetened tea, or going for a quick 5-10 minute walk when the urge to snack hits. Third, I’m a firm believer in using affirmations to retrain your subconscious mind to help you make better choices automatically. Create an affirmation and say it out loud throughout the day multiple times. You could say “I only eat when hunger ensues naturally.” Use positive language and make sure your affirmation is stating what you do want and not what you don’t want.”
Melissa Emmons

“Time for my client and I to become detectives and scientists! Detectives and scientists ask a lot of questions. Then they ask more questions. They ask them without judgement, simply gathering data. What am I doing? Why am I doing it? What am I feeling at that moment? What would I rather do instead? What is a better way to take care of myself I love the shared excitement when a client has a lightbulb moment and zeroes in on what is actually happening. Especially when it’s a moment of personal reflection and understanding of their own behavior, followed by the support and empowerment to change that behavior. Getting to the next level feels so good.”
Sara Baird

“We need to be motivated to make the right choices. One way to do this is to write down your goals, and your reasons for those goals. Read these goals frequently; perhaps every morning. Be sure to include the Why of your goal(s). For instance, you might have a goal to lose weight, and the Why might be to prepare for an upcoming wedding or vacation; or to not hate clothes shopping; or to manage Diabetes symptoms. Brainstorm what is important to you and then go for it! Think of developing new habits being like you are standing on the sand at the beach and your goal is to go body surfing in the ocean. You get there by taking one step at a time until your feet are wet, then you keep going until you are deeper in the waves. It is the forward action, one step at a time, one decision at a time to keep putting one foot in front of the other, heading towards the waves where you want to be. This analogy may not work for you, but it works for me because I love the beach. You may need to find something more inspiring for you. As Erasmus said long ago, ‘A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.’”
Vanessa Marsden

Question #4, from Jack: “How would you balance the advice from a Primal Health Coach with doctor recommendations? The two view points often seem like they are at odds. Doctors seem to have outdated views on nutrition, but ignoring their advice seems like it could be dangerous.”

“Hi Jack. It’s definitely unwise to ignore doctors’ advice, and equally not recommended to follow a PHC’s advice blindly. A good health coach will back up his/her advice with actual scientifically-validated evidence, which you can study and run past your doctor yourself. Similarly, a good doctor would be open to discussing the evidence you’ve provided. With this exercise, you get to evaluate both your doctor and PHC; if you are still in doubt, you can always seek out a second opinion. Remember: you are 100% responsible for your health, and you really want to be confident and comfortable with the decisions you ultimately make. Good luck.”
Victor Chew

“This can be a tough situation if there are differing opinions between the coach and the doctor. Some doctors are less open minded about non-drug therapies, but this is why it’s really important to look for medical practitioners that offer a more holistic approach that includes a nutrition and lifestyle component —such as an integrative or functional doctor.”
Rachel Peterson

“Never ignore the advice from your doctor. Any and all information is invaluable when you have to make the best decision on your health. Doctors, like all professionals should be seen as advisers. Each offering a little piece of the information puzzle you need to complete the health puzzle. Ultimately you have to decide what direction you need to go in order to reach your goal. It is never advisable to hand over the responsibility of your health to another person without question.”
Ron Drillen

“Hi Jack. When working with a client I highlight the fact that my role as a Primal Health Coach is not to diagnose or prescribe a diet or contradict a doctors prescribed approach. If a client wants to go Primal, I encourage them to talk with their doctor about it. Simply meet with your doctor and lay out the Primal approach you want to take with your health coach, and seek to understand the concerns or objections your doctor may have, and why. You can even show examples of how the Primal Blueprint has helped others with the same diagnoses; just search Mark’s Daily Apple for plenty of Success Stories. Getting your doctor’s buy in is a great first step and shows you also have vested interest in taking control of your health.”
Steven Konsdorf

“Despite our opinions (right or wrong) about conventional medicine, your doctor’s orders are important and truthfully not to be ignored. In a perfect scenario, the relationship between client, health coach and doctor would be absolutely collaborative and synergistic. Take the bull by the horns and ensure that your doctor and your health coach are working together to move the needle on your health goals. Introduce your doctor to your PHC; introduce your PHC to your doctor. In a perfect scenario, the relationship between client, health coach and doctor would be absolutely collaborative and synergistic. It’s your health, and you are within your rights to build your own dream team of allied health care practitioners to help you achieve your optimal human badassery!”
Erin Power

Question #5, from Will: “Hey coaches! I am ready to sign up for the health coach certification program. However, it’s important that I have my wife’s buy-in and support before investing in the program — seeing as it will effect her and our two young sons. She’s on the fence. What is the value of this program (particularly for a young family) based on your experience as a health coach that I can relay to my wife as an outside perspective? How has the mastery of primal nutrition and lifestyle impacted your family?”

“Hi Will. I’ve been in just those shoes myself, not too long ago! I’d like to suggest that you ask yourself why you want to enroll: Do you have a passion in helping others? Do you want to start a health coaching business, or use the knowledge and skills from this program to grow your existing business? Do you just love to geek out on the primal lifestyle and hang out with your tribe? Obviously, these are just a few of the questions you’d want to ask yourself to understand your true motivation, and you are the only one that can answer them. For me, the answers were all yes! I do have a full time job that I also love, so it’s not imperative for me to start generating income with this certification right away. However, the knowledge, skills, support, and just being part of the this awesome tribe have made my family’s lives richer, in the sense that we’re healthier, stronger, and more adventurous, because we feel better and can move better. What more can be more prosperous than that?”
Victor Chew

“The value of this program for me has been a more foundational understanding of what it means to live holistically, and to age in such a way that keeps me young, energetic, and virtually medication-free. This has a ripple effect for everyone you are living with! At age 65, I feel like I’m 40. My own experience with the program has been awesome; I’m walking the walk instead of simply talking the talk.”
Regina Barak

“We are a family of four, and it feels like we are team. We have found our groove of food we all agree is delicious and meets our standards for health. My husband and I are also much more likely to jump in and gof around outside with the kids, now that we understand the importance of play in a long healthy life. That brings us closer as a family. Since I’ve taken the course, my family has been inspired to learn too. Now I take what I’ve seen work in my own family and use those tools as a starting point for my clients. It’s a pretty fantastic career in that I thrive off learning and coaching, while also reaping priceless benefits to my family and our health.”
Sara Baird

“The benefits to the overall health of the family are enormous. The course takes all the information in the books, the website and podcasts and goes deeper. It organizes it all in one place and is continually kept up to date. Understanding the “why” and the “how” behind all of this brings so much more confidence in actually helping other humans. The content on how to take this information, translate it and actually apply to different situations and to different people allows you to help more than just your family. You can now take this passion and turn it into another income stream for your family. Many of us started here because we found we were the “go-to” person for nutrition and health advice for friends and family. We were sort of already doing it, for free and with no real direction or organization. I can personally attest to how great it felt to have my son’s first year of college paid for and to be able to say yes to better vacations working VERY part time doing something I loved. Finally, the transition to doing this full time and leaving a career that was causing me entirely too much stress became a reality. I now see my kids more. I am a better mom. The family is happier and healthier. It takes time for all of this stuff to come to fruition (it took me a few years) but you’ve got to start somewhere and you’ll never get there unless you are willing to take the first step.”
Laura Rupsis

Thanks again to all of you who submitted questions for the coaches. And thank you also to our Primal Health Coaches for their time and perspectives today. Feel free to visit the sites and social media accounts of the coaches who joined us today, or check out the full directory of Primal Health Coaches who lives in your area or who offers coaching in a particular health specialty. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Primal Health Coach Institute for yourself, enjoy a free guidebook.

Do you have a question for one of our coaches? Ask them here, and I’ll invite them back soon for another round of Ask the Coach. Have a great week, everybody. We’ll be conducting reader polls—and announcing winners for the various contests all week—including the Grand Prize. Grok on!

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The post Ask the Coach: Primal Health Coaches Answer Your Questions appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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Even after I fixed my diet, ditched the chronic cardio, and cleaned up my overall lifestyle to be more in line with our evolutionary upbringing, one big problem remained: my response to stress.

This had always been an issue for me. Part of it was that I kept a full plate at all times. Whether it was my training load, my businesses, my overall type A personality, stress was simply unavoidable, I thought.

How did I approach the situation and manage my stress differently over time?

First, I agonized over the existence of stress. My entire modus operandi throughout life had been to handle problems when they arose. I didn’t let things fester, I didn’t accept bad situations and learn to deal. I took care of things. If a problem didn’t resolve quickly , I assumed I was doing something wrong. Applied to stress, though? Man, what a disaster. I quickly realized that it was impossible to avoid stress, or eliminate it altogether. I needed a new approach.

So the first major step was admitting that stress is a fact of life, that stressors would arise, and what mattered was how I responded to them. My response could make the stress worse, or it could make it more manageable.

The first way I figured out how to improve my stress response was with smart supplementation. When I was still competing and doing the chronic cardio training required to succeed, I developed a supplement you might recognize by its old Primal Calm label and now called Adaptogenic Calm—designed to mitigate the negative effects of all that training stress. Both Brad Kearns and I used it, and it actually became an underground hit in the endurance scene. Athletes of all kinds were taking it and seeing great results. Of course, most of us just used it to allow our bodies to train even more and accumulate even more stress, which was one of the problems that got me into this mess in the first place.

The next step was realizing that even if I couldn’t eliminate stress entirely, I could eliminate unnecessary stress. First on the list was my training. You’ve heard the story before, so I won’t get too deeply into it. Suffice it to say, I was engaged in way too much endurance training—what I call chronic cardio—and spending way too much time out of the aerobic zone in the no-man’s land of moderately high-intensity that leads to sugar-burning and depresses fat-burning. This training was killing me, taking up all my time, necessitating an inflammatory high-carb, high-sugar diet that led to chronic GI distress and joint pain, and getting in the way of living.  If any of you can identify a big stressor upstream of a bunch of things going wrong in your life, take action and eliminate it. Changing how I trained led to the development of the Primal Blueprint and the resolution of most of my health problems.

Meditation always intrigued me. Even before it became an Internet sensation and every podcaster/blogger/CEO/coach out there credited their success to their morning meditation routine, I was surrounded by meditators. My wife, Carrie, has done it for decades. Lots of my athlete friends used it to—you guessed it—fight stress. And Malibu, CA, where I lived until a few months ago, is no stranger to yoga studios, health food stores, and other similar hives of mindfulness. I tried it. But it didn’t work for me. My mind was too active to become aware of its (lack of) self. Still, the science was convincing and I didn’t want to give up on what looked to be a potent anti-stress tool:

If sitting meditation didn’t work, maybe there was another way to get to a similar mindstate.

In a post I wrote about meditation alternatives, I gave 15 options and readers followed up with dozens of awesome suggestions in the comments. Standup paddling, hikes (or just hanging out) in nature, and guided meditations were my alternatives. They help me achieve the hyper-present flow state I’d only had glimpses of during “real” meditation. And sure enough, stress melts away as I’m doing the activity, I’m far less reactive to stressors (I have an extra split second or two to decide how I want to respond) throughout the week, and I appear to have greater resistance to stress. It’s almost an adaptogenic effect: rather than blunt or eliminate the stress response across the board, I’m able to call forth cortisol when the situation is serious. A car honking at me doesn’t trigger it, in other words.

Where am I today?

Stress is still there. It won’t ever go away, and I’m okay with that. I’ve got a growing food and supplement business, I’m as busy as ever with the writing, I just moved to Miami.

Meditation has gotten easier, but I’m still not a “meditation guy.” I don’t expect to be doing a 10-day silent retreat anytime soon.

Adaptogenic Calm remains a staple for me. The nutrients it contains are supraphysiological responses to the supraphysiological doses and durations of stress we receive in the modern world.

I welcome stress. If I align myself with the things I truly find meaningful and maintain active participation in life and avoid becoming a passive character in someone else’s storyline, the stressors become obstacles that make the narrative of my life more interesting. They propel me forward. Without stressors, I’m not living. I’m not doing anything. Stressors indicate action. They mean you’re bouncing up against reality and testing its mettle (and it, yours).

What’s your stress response journey? I’d love to hear how you’ve handled stress in the past, what you’ve learned along the way, and how you handle it now. Thanks, everybody.

I’ve got a contest coming up later this morning, so be sure to check back.

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How many of you will be joining us for the Challenge next week—and how many for the first time? (I’d love to see a show of hands in the comment section.)

The cool thing about the Challenge each year is this: everybody comes at it from a different place. Some folks are hundred pounds overweight and haven’t exercised in years. Some are at the top of their Primal game but love the community engagement and chance to encourage others. Most are at every stage in between.

Behind every participant across that spectrum is a fascinating story. Your story. The one in which you haven’t quite had the life you’d hoped lately—and the one in which you claim it back.

Today I’ve got some ideas and resources for you to consider. If you’re on the fence about joining us, maybe these can get you over the hump and get you committed. I sure would like to see you with us.

Shop For the Challenge the Weekend Before

Does your pantry and refrigerator reflect your Challenge intent? You have four days to dump or donate what you won’t be eating and to fill your kitchen with Primal fare. Here are some lists (for Primal and for keto) that can be of help.

Spend Time Choosing Primal Recipes

Here’s the catalog of every MDA recipe, but don’t forget to check out the goodies over at Primal Kitchen®’s recipe blog, too.

Prep To Track Your Day-To-Day Practices (and Progress)…If That’s Your Thing

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the “vastness” of a goal. Some of us benefit from seeing our accomplishments grow task by task. For those who are wired that way, keep a food/exercise/stress management journal or wear a tracker if you like gadgets. In addition to the actual tasks, make some observational notes on how you feel, what you’re able to accomplish, where you feel challenged. Looking back on your notes will give you a sense of how far you’ve come and how you stuck with your plan over time.

Work With Your Own Goal Style If You’re an Intuitive Type

I did a whole post on this (“Alternative Goal Setting: How Free Spirits and Slow Burners Can Achieve Their Health Visions”) during a Challenge last year, and I still get mail about this one. If you’re naturally skeptical of structure, take a look.

Check Out the WOW Workout Series

For anyone who needs guidance on how to fit in a workout each day without a gym membership or any special equipment, I’ve got dozens of ideas right here. Whether it’s The Grok Throwdown, The Cave Bear, Bringing Home the Kill, or the Couch Workout, you’re sure to find a favorite.

Divide and Conquer If You Need To

Sometimes it’s easier to tackle one aspect of a lifestyle than to attend to all of them at once. While the Challenge encompasses all of the areas, don’t worry if you need to focus to get the best result. Although all the elements of the Primal Blueprint work together (and can actually make other efforts easier), the most important point is to make the change you’re willing to make. Take on what you feel you’ll stick to. If you keep the rest in sight, chances are you’ll begin gravitating toward those other changes anyway. Healthy choices have an elegant way of begetting other healthy choices.

Make a Burn Pile of Your Past Excuses

Think of the excuses you’ve used in the past for not taking this next step—whatever it is you’d tackle on this particular Challenge. Write them all down on paper. Individual post-its if you want to get fancy about it. But then watch them all go up in flames. For 21 days, let them stay in the ashes. After three weeks, if you want them back you can have them.

Pick a Mantra You’ll Hang Onto

If excuses have derailed you in the past, come armed with something to fill that space instead. Choose a mantra you’ll turn to again and again throughout these three weeks. THIS will be your fallback when the going gets tough or you get tired. This will be your stepping stone back to your intention.

Thanks for stopping by today, everybody. The bees and I are getting next week set up for one awesome Challenge experience. I’ll have multiple announcements on Monday to kick us off and some tips for meal prep as well. In the meantime, let me know how you’re prepping for the 21-Day and how we can be of help.

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