Podcast

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Mark Sisson: The Importance, and Achievability, of Being Fit

An even bigger priority than fiscal fitness
Sunday, February 3, 2013, 2:06 AM

For years, Mark Sisson competed as a professional runner and triathlete. He trained hard and conventionally, but realized that the "better" shape he was in, the more problems his body had: joint pain, digestive issues, tendonitis, etc.

Eventually he retired from competition and set out to find a way to remain fit, but healthy. His research led him to focus on the evolutionary path the human body has followed; How our physiology is designed and how our genes are wired.

What we discovered just in the last ten years is that much of how our body operates is with these genetic switches. You know, our bodies are the result of two and a half million years of human evolution, upright bipedalism based on certain ways of eating, certain ways of moving, certain amounts of sleep and sun exposure. And if we can dig deeply into all of the behaviors that created this recipe that we all possess to build a strong, fit, healthy, happy, productive human being, then we can combine the best of evolutionary biology and modern genetic science to kind of literally take responsibility for our health from this point going forward.

He published his findings in his work The Primal Blueprint which offers an exercise and nutrition program based on these evolutionary criteria.

This program was a big influence in enabling Chris to lose over 30 pounds back in 2011 (and keep the weight off since).

Key takeaways include:

  • Play-based activities (sports, etc) more effective than gym workouts
  • Intense short burst activity is more effective than prolonged aerobics
  • Nutrition influences about 80% of your body composition (vs exercise)
  • Cultivate a diet high in vegetables, fruit, saturated fat and (some) protein. Avoid grains, sugars, and processed foods.
  • A healthy diet cuts down on food cravings and moderates appetite, preventing overeating.
  • Exposure to sun and soil is important. As is sleep.

Now 60, Sisson level of fitness from practicing this program remains excellent and inspiring. His goal is to help people take greater control over their health. Through better maintenance and nutrition, he believes we can lead longer lives with less injury and disease, and be much less dependent on the medications and invasive procedure of modern medicine.

In a world of spiraling medical costs, underfunded health entitlement programs, and growing financial uncertainty, this concept of long-lived fitness at low expense seems an obvious and attractive investment to make.

For those interested in learning more, details of Mark's regime, as well as daily fitness insights, can be found at MarksDailyApple.com.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Mark Sisson (30m:52s):

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson, and today we’re going to delve into one of the most important topics of life, being in shape. Note that I did not say getting in shape, as if that were the goal, but being in shape. Whether your aim is to be more resilient or more healthy or both, being in shape is essential.

Now to set the stage, I’m fifty years old. I weigh about thirty pounds less than I did a bit over a year ago. I exercise regularly but not exhaustively. With my average daily workout, it’s about ten minutes. Once upon a time, I used to spend up to an hour a day in the gym and achieve less results, and that was when I was younger. I eat differently and I exercise differently than I used to. And one of the more profound books that transformed my views was The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. In there, I learned that modern dietary “wisdom” is anything but wise and that my prior approach to grinding out exercise routines was – well, was all wrong, at least from a human DNA blueprint standpoint, which we’re going to find out about today.

We have a chance today to talk with Mark Sisson, a prolific and energetic author, speaker, and businessman dedicated to changing how you eat, look, exercise, and feel. Besides his many books, he runs MarksDailyApple.com, a website with an enormous wealth of information on health, fitness, nutrition, success stories, and a ton of other resources. And you can find links to both at the bottom of the page this podcast is posted to.

Mark, it’s a real pleasure to talk with you today.

Mark Sisson: Thanks for having me, Chris. Great to be here.

Chris Martenson: Great. You know, I was completely taken by your personal story, beginning all the way back at the time when you were a marathon runner and what you learned from that experience. Could you retell that to our listeners? Because I’ve probably told your story a dozen times this year.

Mark Sisson: Sure. I started out with an interest in being healthy, really. That was my goal at an early age, and I recognized that was an important part of who I was. So I read everything I could on what it took to be healthy. Of course, being fit was included in that category. I started running, because in those days, it seemed that aerobics was the way to go. I had read Ken Cooper’s book on aerobics and really liked that concept, so I did some long-distance running. I embarked on a very high-carbohydrate, complex-carbohydrate-based diet to fuel that amount of running.

I pretty much did everything that conventional wisdom said it was going to require to become healthy. And in the process, I became very fit very fast, and I wound up being a national class marathoner and ultimately, a triathlete.

But along the way, I sort of lost sight of my original goal, which was to be healthy. And what I noticed was that while I was race-fit and fast, I was kind of falling apart on the inside. I wound up with osteoarthritis in my feet, tendinitis in other joints in my body, upper respiratory infections six or eight times a year, irritable bowel syndrome. I really was a wreck. And it was kind of bizarre to me to reflect upon that that here was basically the poster child for fitness – I was on the cover of Runner’s World three times – and yet, you know, I was kind of killing myself on the inside.

So when I finally, at the ripe old age of twenty-eight, had to retire because of these injuries and these nagging illnesses and injuries that were taking me down, that’s when I really started to look at what does it take to be as lean and strong and fit and healthy as we possibly can be with the least amount of pain and suffering and sacrifice possible?

That began what has, through today, been a thirty-year odyssey in research and delving deeply into the way the human body works. And what we discovered just in the last ten years is that much of how our body operates is with these genetic switches. You know, our bodies are the result of two and a half million years of human evolution, upright bipedalism based on certain ways of eating, certain ways of moving, certain amounts of sleep and sun exposure. And if we can dig deeply into all of the behaviors that created this recipe that we all possess to build a strong, fit, healthy, happy, productive human being, then we can combine the best of evolutionary biology and modern genetic science to kind of literally take responsibility for our health from this point going forward.

Chris Martenson: Well, let’s jump to the end of that. You were twenty-eight when you started to, I guess, depart from your tried-and-true ways of doing things, and then over this odyssey. So here we are, what, thirty years later, so how old are you now?

Mark Sisson: I’ll be sixty this summer; ooh.

Chris Martenson: Ooh, sixty this summer. Well, I just turned fifty. I know what those landmarks look like.

Mark Sisson: Fifty’s easy, Chris.

Chris Martenson: And I’ve seen your pictures. If I could say this, you’re ripped and you look to be remarkably healthy. How do you feel today?

Mark Sisson: I feel fabulous. I have reoriented my exercise style in a way that has me training the least amount I possibly can in the gym, doing very specific movements – body weight exercises, pushups, pull-ups, dips, lunges, squats, and so on – so that I can orient the rest of my exercise style to play. So I try to spend as little time in the gym as possible, but as much time as I can engaged in playful movement, which includes stand-up paddling, ultimate frisbee, snowboarding, even hiking when I’m excited about hiking. And in that manner, I kind of reoriented my approach to movement such that I don’t dread any workout. I look forward to movement.

Chris Martenson: Fantastic. Okay, so what you’ve just started to articulate is what I learned in The Primal Blueprint. And you started by saying look, we’re these genetic creatures. We were shaped by millions of years as humans but probably billions of years evolutionarily across all of our different gene structures and they’re tuned for certain things. And in that tuning, there are two major aspects of this. One is how you move and exercise, and the second being how you eat.

Since we started with the moving, what is it that you found and articulate in The Primal Blueprint that suggests that the way in which most people might think of as exercise – these grueling, grinding, no fun, get-through-them-but-don’t-look-forward-to-them kinds of practices – why are those off the mark?

Mark Sisson: Well, if you look at, again, the historical movement pattern of humans, it involves a lot of movement at low levels of aerobic activity – walking, crawling, migrating, foraging – these are all terms we used to describe hunter-gatherers. Very rarely is there any long-term high-end aerobic activity where you’re out pushing the heart rate high for forty minutes or an hour or an hour and a half. So there’s a lot of low-level activity. And this is, again, a typical human historical movement pattern. Then there are brief periods of high-intensity activity where you’re lifting – again, if you look at the ancestral pattern – lifting rocks, carrying babies, lugging a carpet back to the camp, sprinting after an animal that you might want to be having for dinner, or sprinting away from an animal that might want to have you for dinner.

So there are brief periods of high intensity where it’s an all-out effort, but for the most part, long periods of low-level activity. And it’s difficult to recreate that, because we sit so much these days at work. And what we do in The Primal Blueprint is we try to find ways – “hacks” is the term that we use – to move more, whether it’s parking further away from work and walking that extra block or two, or taking stairs instead of the elevator. Or whether it’s getting up every twenty minutes and walking around the office, if your boss will allow you to do that, or going for a walk at lunch with your coworkers. We try to find ways in which to inject this low-level activity, and then try to find ways to get to the gym or just even in your backyard, to drop and do a quick set of fifty pushups or whatever it is to get those brief bursts of high-intensity activity. Because the body doesn’t expect us to be slogging it out every day.

The real observational study that just about everybody can agree with is, you go to the gym and you see these same people on the treadmill day in and day out for years and years. And yes, they’re working hard, and yes, they’re sweating. But yes, they also have the same twenty-five pounds to lose that they just can’t seem to get rid of, and it’s partly because of the movement pattern and partly because of their diet, which we can segue into when you’re ready.

But a lot of the movement, it just doesn’t – If you get the diet right, if you realize that 80% of your body composition happens as a result of how you eat, how you manipulate hormones and gene expression through food, then you also get that you don’t need to do that much exercise to maximize strength and body composition.

Chris Martenson: You know, this has been absolutely true for me. We’ll get to the food in just a second. But my daily ten-minute workout, one of the things I picked up from your book was to do high-intensity every so often. But going to failure, really actually going to failure, that last one pushup, that last one pull-up, that last one curl, seems to do more for me than anything I’d done before, and really, it’s been transformative. But the point is, I’m not spending nearly as much time on the exercise portion as I used to, because I think it’s really more about – as you say – 80% of the game is going to come from what you’re putting into your body.

Mark Sisson: Right.

Chris Martenson: That’s where I’ve noticed. And the first thing, even before I came across your book, was – for whatever reason, I’d decided I was just going to start listening to my body. And when I would open up the fridge, more often than not, I would scan everything in there and my body would say nah, don’t want any of that stuff. So I learned to listen to my body and it started gravitating towards many of the things that you have just this fabulous – I’ve got your cookbook here, The Primal Blueprint Cookbook The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation– just fabulous, delicious, tasty recipes.

But let’s talk about where we are with nutrition in this country. So to set the stage, we’ve all seen the numbers, right? We are probably the most morbidly obese country on the planet, or close to it, and this is all coming with probably more information about how the body works than we’ve ever had at any point in time. What is going wrong here?

Mark Sisson: Well, our genes were forged in a crucible where macronutrients like fat, protein, and carbohydrate were scarce, and carbohydrates were particularly scarce. And all of a sudden, we’re thrust into this 21st century environment now, where food is readily accessible everywhere, and particularly, processed carbohydrates and sugars. The effect that those have on the body are devastating over a lifetime. And what we tried to do with The Primal Blueprint is try to convince people of the idea that humans are designed to burn mostly fat for fuel. We are not supposed to be relying on a fresh supply of carbohydrate every three hours throughout the day to get us from Point A to Point B.

When we become good at burning our stored body fat, then we unburden ourselves of having to eat on this regular schedule and the issues that come from this roller coaster of blood sugar levels and energy levels throughout the day. Because when we program our genes in the direction of deriving most of our energy from stored body fat, we are kind of re-accessing that factory setting that we all have at birth. Now, how that manifests itself is, most people on The Primal Blueprint are eating a relatively lower carbohydrate diet, but they’re not avoiding the good carbs. You know, plenty of vegetables and fruit and so on. What they’re avoiding are the toxic, processed, high carb foods – the flours and the sugars and the things that you find in cereals and pasta and bread and crackers and cookies and desserts and all that other. Once you get rid of that stuff, you find there’s this vast cornucopia of really great tasting natural foods that you can have pretty much whenever you want.

Now, when I say whenever you want, one of the great things that happens as a result of starting to eat this way is that your appetite starts to regulate itself and you don’t get these cravings. Because when you become good at burning off your own stored body fat, your body doesn’t know whether the 500 calories that you had for lunch came off a plate of rib eye steak or off your thighs. It’s still the same fat that the body’s burning effectively and prefers to burn, and so you tend not to have these dramatic swings in energy levels, and your appetite regulates.

So you wind up choosing to eat less – or certainly, not to have to fight off this urge all the time to cut back on your eating, because you do it automatically.

Chris Martenson: Now, this urge – you mentioned before that we have to reprogram our genes. So I’m hearing at least two pathways in here. One is a fat-burning pathway; another is a carbohydrate-burning or dependent pathway. Are those operating in parallel at all times and we’re sort of dialing one up or one down? Or is it literally switching from one pathway to another?

Mark Sisson: Oh, no, no. It’s what we call “fuel partitioning,” and there’s always some of each going on at any point in time. But what we want to do is we want to get to that point where we reduce our body’s expectation of getting carbohydrates and increase its ability to access and burn fat. And this is where the genes come into play. This is where the signals that we provide for both the diet and the exercise cause what we call up-regulating of the enzyme systems that are involved in fat metabolism and burning, and they down-regulate the systems that are expecting carbohydrate or they’re depending on sugar all the time. We use the term kind of loosely that you go from being a sugar burner to being a fat burner.

Chris Martenson: A fat burner. And so in this diet then, your basic dietary recommendations, besides doing away with carbohydrates, by which especially heavily processed carbohydrates are the ones with the least value beyond just simply providing calories. What are your recommendations on the pro side? What is it that we’re increasing here?

Mark Sisson: For most people, that means increasing healthy fat. So that means having access to things like avocado, butter, olive oil, eggs, grass-fed meats when available – but that’s not a deal-breaker right there. Just good cuts of meat. The point being that saturated fat is not the enemy. So we don’t really avoid saturated fat on this program. We just look for the best possible source of fat and use those as a main source of calories in the eating strategy. I even hesitate to call it a diet.

But when you reduce your dependency on sugars and processed carbohydrates and you recognize that, again, you can eat what you want from a list of vegetables and fruits and some starchy natural tubers like sweet potatoes and potatoes, it’s really difficult to get more than two hundred or two hundred and fifty grams of carbs a day. And the rest of it automatically comes from those healthy choices of protein and fat.

Now, we’re not overly dependent on protein. I started out in this investigation thinking protein was the ultimate king and you had to match your protein intakes with a gram per pound of body weight every day. I’ve become less and less beholden to that kind of mantra, and I don’t think we need as much protein, particularly if we become good at reorienting ourselves at accessing stored body fat. We enter into this protein-sparing phenomenon that is also part of our evolution and then we don’t require that much dietary protein on a daily basis.

Chris Martenson: Okay, so what does a typical eating day look like for you?

Mark Sisson: So because I’ve become so good at burning fat, I wake up in the morning and I’m not really hungry. And I might have a cup of coffee to get me started, because coffee is allowed on this program –

Chris Martenson: Glad to hear it.

Mark Sisson: – and I don’t abuse it; I have a cup in the morning. But I engage in what we call a “compressed eating window.” So I might have my first meal at 1:00 in the afternoon. And it might be a giant salad with some form of protein on it. And then a second meal that I would have later on in the day might be at 7:00 at night, and that might be dinner. Now again, I don’t do this because I’m trying to deprive myself. I eat according to my hunger. And the irony is, I’ll wake up again, start working, go through the morning. I might break mid-morning and go to the gym or go for a hike or go for a paddle and do so not having eaten since 7:00 the prior evening. But because I’ve become so good at burning fat, the energy for that workout is coming mostly from stored body fat. And that’s a powerful tool, certainly, for me to maintain my body composition. But it’s also a powerful tool for people who are trying to lose excess body fat.

And the other thing that I’ve noticed, which I think I find a very compelling argument for this way of eating, is that I probably consume twenty to thirty percent fewer calories per day than I used to when I was big on the carbohydrates. Because I’ve become so efficient at what I do in terms of energy production, I don’t need to be eating just for the sake of increasing my metabolism. And that’s another thing that we learn within this Primal Blueprint strategy – that the human body wants to conserve energy. So we try to figure out ways that we can conserve energy without gaining body fat, and it works beautifully for most people.

Chris Martenson: Interesting. So you are comfortable not having breakfast in the morning. Do you feel like is that because of how your body is conditioned? Or would that be true for everybody?

Mark Sisson: Well, you know, it’s interesting; you’re right. Because everybody is different, we talked about this experiment of one. We know that the body’s biochemistry works the same in everybody; it’s just the degree to which it works. It’s the degree to which you build muscle or the degree to which you store fat that differs among individuals as a result of your own unique little genetic tweaks, the contributions that your parents made to who you are.

In many cases, in a lot of cases, people will agree with me that they wake up, they’re not hungry for breakfast. And once you get out of your head that breakfast isn’t necessarily the most important meal of the day and you’re not going to fall apart if you don’t have breakfast and it becomes okay to not eat it, you’re not hungry. I mean, that’s probably the most important cue for me – if I’m not hungry, why do I want to eat?

So a lot of people do share in that experience. Others say you know, I wake up and I’m hungry, so I have some breakfast, and that’s fine, too. There’s no real hard and fast way to do this, other than generally getting this reprogramming of your genes to be very good at burning fat and not so dependent on carbohydrates. And over time, people arrive at it. I think you actually sort of acknowledged it yourself that there’s an intuitive sense that you get when you open the refrigerator and you go yeah, I feel like this and I know I don’t want to put that into my body. Again, it’s a very empowering feeling to understand that not only do you know how to eat and when to eat and what to eat, but it’s not driving your life in a way that it does with so many people who are on a “diet.”

Chris Martenson: There’s so much of our conventional wisdom that used to drive my behaviors. Of course, we have the food pyramid, but breakfast is the most important part of the day. There’s a lot of marketing, whether it comes from the USDA or from food manufacturers around what and how we’re supposed to eat. But as a parent, one of the things I noticed was that our bodies do a great job of telling us what to eat. And I noticed this in my children, because when my children would be going through a growth spurt, we could not possibly keep bananas on the counter. They would just power through them and then my wife would keep buying the bananas and then they’d eventually start rotting on the counter because the kids would be done with their growth spurt and they wouldn’t eat them anymore.

So the kids like automatically knew when their body wanted whatever it was that the bananas provided, probably potassium. And so there’s a signal to me that our bodies can tell us exactly what we need. And so quite regularly, I listen as much as I can to my body, and it very usually follows along with everything you’ve taken the trouble to articulate so beautifully in your cookbooks and your other materials.

So it’s really just gaining the knowledge from you and then following that, if I listen carefully to what my body actually says.

Mark Sisson: Agreed. And the one caveat is that you can’t have junk in the house because the brain – you know, we’re still wired to go after sweet stuff because it was so scarce throughout most of human history. And yet, we’re so confronted with candy and sweets and desserts everywhere you turn. So one of the strategies is kind of get rid of those in your own house so that when it does come time to snack or open up the refrigerator, you’re presented with a range of choices, any one of which would appropriate in the context of what you’re feeling in that particular moment – whether you need a high-carbohydrate bump, which is fine, or whether you’re going to just take the edge off with a high-fat snack. I keep macadamia nuts on hand a lot; they’re my favorite snack, and they take the edge off like nobody’s business. So I’ve found that that’s a great tool to use in the event that I don’t have time to fix a meal and I want to take the edge off until I do have time, but I don’t want to be tempted to go for the fast food drive-thru or some packaged snack that just happens to be staring at me from the shelf.

Chris Martenson: I totally understand exactly what you’re saying. Now, I think a question that comes up a lot for people when they hear about a diet like this – or sorry, not a diet, that’s the wrong word –

Mark Sisson: That’s fine, that’s fine.

Chris Martenson: We’ll call it a way of eating. I have some questions. Is it hard? Is it expensive? Is it time-consuming? Because when I walk down the vegetable aisle at my store, I get sticker shock a lot these days.

Mark Sisson: Yeah. Well, it’s not hard if you are willing to take the few weeks that the transition – literally, the biochemical transition – in your body will take. That’s why I have a book called The 21-Day Total Body Transformation. Because it takes about three weeks of this regular eating style for your body to up-regulate all those enzyme systems that we want and down-regulate the other ones. So that’s the part that’s maybe hard.

I also am really down on grains. I think grains are the worst thing that ever happened to us. And so if we can get rid of grains in our diet, I think all of us are better off for having done that. And for a lot of people, grains have an opiate-like effect on the brain. So again, it’s that difficult transition time.

But almost invariably, people get through that transition and go, wow, I feel I don’t crave them anymore, I don’t need them, I recognized that I was bloated when I ate them or I had gut issues when I ate grains. So I’m better off having gotten rid of the grains.

You don’t have to go for the most expensive cuts of grass-fed meats or wild salmon on this program, as some people would assume. This is really about getting rid of all of the peripheral crap, for lack of a better word – the packaged goods. You know, a box of cereal I bought for years, but a box of cereal is what – four, five, six bucks? If you get rid of a lot of the peripheral stuff and just focus on the produce and the good cuts of meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and so on, it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it could be a wash in terms of your overall costs or expenses.

But I would rather people look at it as all right, over a lifetime, if I don’t start eating this way and I continue to eat the standard American diet, there’s a strong possibility – like it’s better than fifty-fifty- that I will wind up with some kind of a heart condition of some kind of a long-term metabolic problem that’s going to cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars in not just medical issues but lost work time or just quality of life issues. So the investment that I make today in making that transition will pay off probably better than any 401K you could ever imagine over a lifetime.

Chris Martenson: That’s an excellent point. Where does gardening fit into your plan here?

Mark Sisson: Gardening’s great for a lot of reasons. Getting out in the sun means you’re getting some vitamin D. And one of the things you learn from The Primal Blueprint is that this admonition that dermatologists have given us over the years to avoid the sun is probably causing more problems in terms of increased amounts of cancer from avoiding the sun than were ever caused by being in the sun too long.

So getting out, gardening, getting you in the sun, playing in the soil. There are some healthy dirt – There’s bacteria in the soil that are there to interact with our skin, and it causes a beneficial immune response. So people who are out in loam and soil and working the soil tend – it’s been shown in research – to have more effective immune systems.

Ultimately, just the fact that you can grow your own vegetables – again, if we're talking about a sense of personal responsibility and personal empowerment and control, there is nothing like taking control of your health away from your doctor or the AMA, your insurance company, and saying you know what? I got this. I am going to be totally in control of my health from here on out.

And then the other part of that is being in control of my food production, to a certain extent. And if you’re growing your own vegetables or some people just have an herb garden or whatever, and there’s a real sense of empowerment there to say wow, I’ve gained an element of control that I never thought I could have and it feels good.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely, and for me, it’s something I happen to enjoy a lot. But I also get to control the quality of the food. And I’m a big fan now of understanding how the nutrients and micronutrients, in particular, cycle through. And it turns out a lot of industrially farmed produce these days is really starting to get stripped of nutrients. Whether you think that’s important or not, I do. So I just love the gardening – it’s beautiful and it gives me that sense of control, which I love in this day and age.

Mark Sisson: Absolutely.

Chris Martenson: Okay. So somebody’s spent the twenty-one days. I would really direct people to look at some of the success stories, which you’ve just got a ton of out there on your website. But people have come back with just a raft of anecdotes for you. One woman was saying her migraines went away; other people with long-term metabolic sorts of issues cured themselves, if I can use that term. How many of those anecdotes do you have? And is that, to you, a real and verifiable result of being on this program?

Mark Sisson: Yeah, it’s funny. This month, we will hit two million unique visitors for the month of January. And we have tens of thousands of reported anecdotal responses, thousands of recorded – you know, very extensive testimonials – from people who sent in letters or participated on our forum. And every week, we have a featured success story with photographs on Fridays on MarksDailyApple, and that’s now in the hundreds.

So when people say well, wait a minute, there’ve been no studies done in this area. I go Dude, you know, you can show me your studies of people filling out questionnaires about what they ate last week or two months ago and maybe come up with some kind of correlation there. But I would argue that my hundreds of thousands of user experiences and my tens of thousands of testimonials will trump that, particularly when people say look, you know, it’s great that I lost fifty pounds or a hundred and five pounds and my polycystic ovarian syndrome went away or I cured my type 2 diabetes. But the most important thing about this eating strategy is I know I can do this for the rest of my life. It’s a sustainable program because that’s what your genes expect.

Chris Martenson: Well, that’s just fantastic. And Mark, I really want to thank you for your time today. And I want to be sure people know that they can find you at MarksDailyApple.com. Is there anything more you’d like to tell us about your offerings there and the resources you have available?

Mark Sisson: Well, sure. We’ve got a regular weekly newsletter. You sign up for that, you can download our 92- page Primal Blueprint fitness book and several user-generated cookbooks. That alone has a tremendous amount of value for a lot of people. And then we send out a weekly newsletter. We post daily at MarksDailyApple. There’s been a new – I like to say exciting or insightful – article every day for the last six and a half years. So it’s a great place to come to; a lot of people use it as their first stop of the day. I encourage everyone to sign up for the newsletter, get the freebies, and play with us.

Chris Martenson: Fantastic. I certainly hope people do, and I want to thank you again. And I hope we’ve managed to inspire somebody to literally change their life for the better.

Mark Sisson: Well, I appreciate your having me on, Chris. It was a great experience. I hope we can do it again.

Chris Martenson: The pleasure was all mine.

About the guest

Mark Sisson

Mark Sisson is the author of a #1 bestselling health book on Amazon.com, The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy, as well as The Primal Blueprint Cookbook: Primal, Low Carb, Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free and the top-rated health and fitness blog MarksDailyApple.com. He is also the founder of Primal Nutrition, Inc., a company devoted to health education and designing state-of-the-art supplements that address the challenges of living in the modern world.

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ao
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some comments on a good article
This is a good article but not a great article.  Fitness is a major part of health but fitness derived from nutrition and exercise alone does not determine health.  Health is determined by nutrition, exercise, AND one's psychological/spiritual outlook.  Being involved, committed, and passionate about something is part of that outlook and Mark obviously demonstrates those characteristics with his promotion of his ideas.  But one must be careful not to allow enthusiasm, marketing, and media prominence serve as full confirmation of the absolute validity of one's ideas nor should testimonials be considered as full validation since they're basically a dime a dozen..   
 
But coming back to fitness and the nutrition component of fitness, it is one's metabolic type and metabolic sub-types that determine what diet is best for someone.  Certainly, the foods that one eats should be pristine, free from unintentional or intentional chemical or biological contamination, and contain the highest level of micro-nutrients possible which only come from healthy soil and from the healthy plants and animals supplied by that soil and consumed by humans.  But given that your foods have these qualities, the types of foods you eat and the optimal macro-nutrient ratios (i.e. proteins, fats, carbohydrates) are influenced at a macro level by your metabolic type.  Within your metabolic type, gene expression and the resulting isozyme forms can be influenced by both diet and exercise but that range of variation is limited by your genetics.  In other words, the up- or down-regulation of various enzyme systems, as described by Mark, has a narrower range of ability to change and therefore limited adaptability as compared to your wider ranging ability to change your diet to match your metabolic type.  
 
Mark has joined the band wagon of condemnation of grains and I would tend to agree with him, for HIS and MY metabolic type.  But there are others who will do well with a higher level of grains in their diet IF (and it's a vitally important IFf) those grains are NOT the more modern, higher yield selected grains (due to the gluten factor, among other things) but rather heirloom types and IF those grains are not GMOs.  Granted, finding this type of grain in the modern world, especially in the developed countries, is becoming increasingly difficult.
 
Eating high on the food chain will consistently result in greater concentration of contaminants in your diet.  Hence, while meat, poultry, fish, eggs, etc. are excellent sources of nutrition, especially of protein, depending upon the sources of those foods, consuming them virtually guarantees higher levels of contaminants in your body.  Thus, one must balance their consumption with the knowledge that you could be increasing your risks of cancers, not from the food itself, but from the contaminants found in the food.  Consumption of various plant foods, however, has the capability of negating some of those adverse effects.  For example, cilantro is a heavy metal chelator and can be beneficial in reducing levels of mercury absorbed into the body.  Also, the cruciferous vegetables are well known for their detoxifying effects (but they also have their own inherent health risk if they are not prepared properly with broccoli and cauliflower, for example, acting as goiterogens if they are consumed raw).
 
Regarding exercise, just like different individuals respond better to different foods, different individuals respond better to different types of exercise and differing intensities, volumes, frequencies, etc. of exercise.  Joint and connective tissue type, muscle type, and metabolic type, for example, all have an influence on exercise selection.  In addition (and this also, is a vitally important point), different types of exercise are appropriate for different stages of one's life cycle.  What is good for children is not necessarily optimal for teens and young adults and what is good for them is not necessarily good for a geriatric population.  In addition, understanding micro-, meso-, and macro-cycles of exercise is important.  The body likes variation, in food, exercise, mental stimulation, almost everything.  Mark mentioned his past problems with overtraining and even with triathlon participation in 3 different types of exercise, those 3 exercises are all similar types and doing them year round may not be optimal as compared to a cyclically varying exercise routine that phase various types of exercise in and out on a regular basis.  Ditto with ANY type of exercise or activity.  Variety is the spice of life. 
 
Mark mentioned play type of activities as a source of exercise and that is good.  But most of us don't live in Malibu like Mark, nor have his income, nor have his lifestyle.  Having to do more traditional work, learning how to incorporate work movements as an exercise form has more practical application for most of us.  How you get out of bed, how you stand, how you sit on the toilet, how you make your breakfast, how you clean your house and do laundy, how you get into your car, how you do your job, etc. can all be done in a way that breaks down the body OR builds up the body, depending upon how it is down.  We had a 10 inch snowfall the other day and  yesterday I had to clean off our 2 cars that were outside, shovel around the cars where our plow person's plow couldn't reach, clean off the front sidewalk, clean off the front deck, clean off the back sidewalk, clean off the back deck, and clean off the trampoline.  Doing this simple activity in different ways on both the left and the right side and at different speeds and intensities gave me a decent workout without any localized aches and pains.  Plus I chased the dog around in the snow so we had some fun and some play exercise to boot.;-)   
 
In addition, the major physical performance attributes must all be considered with exercise including posture, flexibility, strength, endurance, and balance.  For example, if one is training hard and intensely and experiencing the benefits of that but one's overall postural alignment is poor or a joint or series of joints are hypermobile or hypomobile or misaligned, then this hard training which is benefitting your cardiovascular system and your muscles may, on the other hand, be damaging your joints, ligaments, tendons, etc.  In addition, one must consider balanced exercise in terms of what I call the hard/soft or yin/yang principle of exercise.  Doing exclusively "hard" exercise will eventually burn one out while doing all "soft" exercise will leave one weaker, less challenged, less resilient, and less ... for want of a better word ... tough.  But using the two together and in balance can result in optimal utilization of both the development and remedial aspects of exercise.  Consideration of what type of exercise is preparatory, what is remedial, what is developmental, and what is maintenance is also important.  I could literally write days on this subject because this is what I have done and taught for the better part of my life but time is at a tremendous premium as of late.  Writing the post yesterday on 2nd amendment issues took up too much of what little free time I have on weekends but I felt it just had to get out there.  This issue is important but not as important as that so one prioritizes to the best of one's ability.
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Mark,

...Man am I glad you are here.

I am a sports junkie and have hit a wall because of the inability to exercise without whatever I do sticking my butt back in a chair.

For me and because of past commitments to exercise I have broken my back, ribs, bulging disks in the lower back, and titanium plates now holding my neck firmly in place, a face having repairs because I didn't duck enough or took an elbow as a right cross missed but my opponent swings back with the elbow to thwart my next attack. A repaired and herniated umbilicus because of a body shot.

I have pretty much set all these activities aside now, and I have never lifted weights. But I want to Golf and still umpire.  

What happens now is if I golf for a week then the small muscles that attach at the lower back fail and on my butt I end up. Right or left side it doesn't seem to matter but in particular my finishing side, the left side. 

I have tried everything, physical therapy is a joke, and I am at my wits end. Massages seem to help but still injuries are constant. I'm 58 and I don't think age should matter but old injuries haunting me again?

Now I have thought that I will just let everything break down and then build from the ground up, and evenly. I have always drank enough water and monitor this through the color of my urine. 

After completing my latest bout with body break down, and this is an eye injury that requires I have to chill out. I can't lift more than 5 pounds (for a few more weels?), exercise is not to be done although walking is good and I do this. I will begin a balanced approach to my workouts. I love jumping rope (but will decrease this and do less but more reps,, and I will chop wood equally with five swings from the right and five from the left and that will be my approach with everything. Crunches I cannot do or I will be laid out for a while as my back needs no excuse to spasm me to my knees. In reaching for something so simple like under a cupboard I will start to spasm, and honestly I have to hold on hard to the counter top just to stay on my feet, and I better stay on my feet or I am not getting up for a while. 

I am NOT a runner as this does nothing for me unless I am umpiring, boxing, hitting some baseballs at the cage, hockey, etc...In other words I run when playing something but to run for the joy of it is NOT going to happen. To finish, I love gardening, flowers and food but not enough to feed my family for a lengthy period of time. However, friends and I belong to a co-op and we get our good food by working together. This is truly a spiritually and rewarding task that is done during the growing season. Protein is provided from the same source and is NOT chemically enhanced. I feel terrific (at least I am very contented still so that's cool). I have still great energy but it is more an excitement for reading and research (more a redirection out of the need to occupy myself and having the pride in doing something, anything) which for me has been every bit as rewarding as the physical kind.

OK, how can an ex-jock re- build his core, without muscle mass, and build those attaching muscles without the workouts that strengthen these core muscles, because whenever they are asked to join the fun they seem to tear from their frame and again, sit my butt down because of a fairly good amount of pain, and spasms a quick response that my body wants me to just stop already. All I want to do is Golf and I can't even do that for any real length of time or consistency.

Wow! This was a mouthful. but I really want to Golf, and 36 holes a day or every other day which I am able to do for a couple of weeks and then I am down for a couple of weeks. I am at my wits ends and any guidance that is personally experienced that has worked for you would be appreciated.

I am NO LONGER interested in what ANY doctor has to say because they have yet to be helpful with regards tomy back and mid section.

I eat no different than I always have. A small bowl of cereal late morning and then a robust dinner at 6 with a balance to it, and not a great deal of meat, mainly lamb, and portions of everything else that seem reasonable. I will admit that losing weight is easy when active, and maintained when not. Of course Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to add that which I don't lose, and is now being added too the next year, and next, and next, so that now I am over the weight I have always carried which on a 5'10" frame was 202 and is now 215. I've been told 190 should be good but I feel my best at 202. I have no issues working off to 190 as less muscle is needed for golf than the higher muscle mass used for hockey, boxing or other strength needing sports. I love stretching and do that faithfully but even that must be focused as any false move can cause spasms in my back. Hell, I've been laid out for a couple of weeks just kicking my shorts off getting ready to put my jeans on. Crazy stuff.

I just felt like I whined through this whole thread but I am desperate for any real advice that I can implement. Trust me, I am as least fit as I have ever been, I have planned this actually so I can begin a different body shape. Where to begin now is important, and I am highly motivated. HELP!

By the way, you look as my Brother does and he is 62, that being ripped, lean muscled and I'm proud of you. Envied too. He's a professional too at staying fit as an ex ball player and manager. I want to again be like you two. I am embarrassed frankly, not depressed just embarrassed.

Thank you

BOB

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Mark, I'll do the research for this will require a lengthy...

...response from you so just point the way and I will trust what you recommend. That's it. Chris wouldn't have you here if you weren't of high character so a ringing endorsement then. I'm buying so show me, please.

BOB

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I'm with you Bob, back issues...

Enjoyed the podcast. I'm good in respect to diet and being in shape (5'9/150lbs) but I struggle with the same back issues Bob. I'm pretty much in constant chronic low-level to medium back/hip pain. I used to think the issue was lower lumbar, but realized in the last two year that it really feels like the tendons in my hips are shot. Also like you Bob, I was involved in intense athletics (competitive mogul skier, waterskier, ultimate frisbee, tennis, golf, triathlete, you name it I love(d) it) for most of my life but have had to give up a lot of these activities on a competitive level because I can find myself out of commission for two months if I push myself too hard...my back siezes with acute pain. I can still do these activities to some degree, but  now that I'm 46 I worry that my ability to enjoy all these activities is going to continue to diminish. I know that I can't expect to have the same abilities as I did when I was younger, but I would like to enjoy exercise without the pain and/or the fear of pain.

Same as you Bob, I've been to the doctors, and physical therapists, but I have had very limited success and certainly no prolonged pain-free periods of respite. The inversion table has helped a little and I'm going to try acupuncture next. I stretch daily and work out a half an hour daily with varying activities (play, core, cardio) so I'm still active, but the pain is just managed and always there. Anyone have insights for me? Thank you for any replies!

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Back Issues

I've had my share. 

And I thought for a time that I would have to find an alternative to my current work as a carpenter. But for some reason I haven't experienced debilitaing lower back pain for about 10 years now. I'm 51, and my troubles started when I was about 33. I remember being out of commission with lower back pain several times a year for many years.

But after allowing sufficient time for healing following some of my worst episodes of back trouble, I eventually learned what activities strengthened my back as opposed to those that likely caused my injury. And also for me doing bench, sitting type work has always led to back problems. That is because I experieced my worst years for back trouble when I was a piano tuner technician and guitar tech. Too much bending over and sitting for long periods of time always leads to back problems for me.

But I currently work over 50 hrs per week as a house framer. And although my back does get stiff, I no longer have any fear of "putting my back out". That is as long as I don't exert myself in ways that I know will cause injury like putting excessive load on my back while it is extended.

I am also an avid whitewater canoeist, x-country skier and those activity plus my love of dancing and swimming keep me in pretty good shape I think. I have also done yoga. I think that helped a lot.

But maybe I am mostly just very lucky to have overcome the misery of cronic lower back pain.

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locksmithuk
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Motivation for health

Both Mark and ao raise valid and valuable points. And Bob & Gillbilly have my (our?) sympathy too – there can be few more frustrating things than one’s desire to live a physically active life restricted by a shutdown in physical capability… particularly so when a large cross section of society’s able-bodied souls are married to their sofas (and why would you have any chronic pain when the biggest workout you do is pushing your index finger to the limit on the remote?!!).

One aspect which is often not covered when fitness / health regimes are discussed is the motivation to be fit and healthy. As ao suggested, the perfect trifecta is physical, nutritional and spiritual well-being. It’s hard to imagine having a dissatisfied soul if that trifecta is strong. Anyone who has gone from a state of poor health to exceptional health (and sometimes back again!) knows the exhilaration of that journey and the feeling of being at one’s prime when you’re physically taut, emotionally attuned to your lifestyle, and your intellectual faculties are razor-sharp.

The desire to be healthy is far easier than the work required to get there, and it’s why we sometimes stumble (or downright crash) along the way. As far as the physical element of health is concerned, the global diet industry knows it’s onto a winner: tap into that part of the human brain which regulates guilt, fear and anxiety, and bob’s your uncle. Overweight people are often caught in a desperate and vicious circle of guilt-eat-worry, coupled with genuine ignorance of dietary and exercise basics. Add to that the occasional restrictive factors of freezing northern hemisphere winter weather & darkness, and the cosiness of indoor comforts becomes waaaay too appealing. However, there's just too much good dietary & exercise information out there not to give it a try.

If it helps anyone looking to embark along a journey of health, my own transformation started with a chance online discovery of a physical training programme combined with nutritional discipline. I lost 17kgs (37lbs in old money) in 17 weeks, and thereafter moved onto spiritual and mental strengthening (meditation, resilience-planning, and even a little hypnotherapy). In hindsight I think this sequence worked for me because the resilience I achieved from fitness was a great springboard for a spiritual journey. For physical conditioning I used Turbulence Training Fatloss programme, and I monitored everything I put it my mouth using My Fitness Pal. TT requires no more than 4 x 45min sessions per week, and you can do it in the comfort of your own bedroom/study/large broom cupboard, with the simple tools of an inflatable exercise ball and a dumbbell set. Get through the first 2 weeks then it’ll get a lot easier.

To anyone who’s at the startpoint of their journey to health, choose something which works for you, your body and your circumstances. The following helped me greatly, and if any of it helps you then please give it a try:

- set realistic, achievable goals, but ensure that you still challenge yourself (resilience comes from the experience of overcoming hurdles);

- if you stumble, all is not lost. Get up and try again. And then again. You aren’t the first to trip up and you won’t be the last;

- at the end of every training or meditative session, take 5mins to “zone out” and remember exactly why you are on the path you are on. Picture vividly what your life could be like with ill-health;

- every day take 2 mins to stop and be grateful that you’ve been given the opportunity to be healthy, and be grateful for your loved ones;

- don’t eat anything which your grandparents would not have eaten. Generally, if it comes out a packaged box or a bag then leave it alone.

Finally, I’d like to share a recent sobering experience with someone who has taught me the value of resilience and motivation:

I volunteer as a counsellor, and last weekend I spoke to a man with a degenerative bone condition. Unlike the lucky majority his condition is incurable, he has constant chronic pain, and spends his summer days lying on his back on ice and his winter days lying alongside several heat bottles. He refuses to take his full dosage of medicine because he says that he’d effectively be a legalised addict if he did. Every day he considers suicide, and every day he has to actively motivate himself not to carry it out (he has a detailed & long-established suicide plan). He was a state-level competition swimmer, but can no longer work and has lost a thriving business, his house, money and a great lifestyle. He is an only child, both parents are deceased, and his remaining family have deserted him. For around 10 years he has lived in shared boarding accommodation, in an unsafe neighbourhood with addicts for company. Part of the counselling model my organisation employs is to find some ambivalence, some small chink of hope in a suicidal person’s life. I tried 150% to find something, but the only motivation that this intelligent man sees in his life is to get the government to publicly acknowledge the devastating causal link between physical impairment, ill-health and poverty, when instead the government wants only to throw money at methadone programmes and efficient (read cramped) housing for addicts. He believes has nothing else to live for, yet by sharing his decade-long living hell he has taught me an immeasurably valuable lesson in appreciating what I have. That – and the legacy which I hope this man leaves to this world – will be what motivates me from now on. If I can achieve even 20% of his strength and motivation for my own balanced health then I’ll be enriched.

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The Sisson!

I'll preface my comment by saying I'm a huge fan of Mark Sisson.  The man is legit and has empowered so many people to take control of their health and thus their resilency.  

You can do all the preps you want, buy all the PMs you can, but if you don't have your health it ain't much good.  In my opinion, health begins with feeding yourself the type of diet (paleo/primal) that Mark Sisson reccomends. My family is a testament to this: massive weight loss, auto-immune disease reversed, and a huge sense of control in regards to food!  As someone who works in healthcare, I would agree with others that I wouldn't trust your health to your MD.  The conventional wisdom in regards to diet and exercise (just like finance and economics!) is so misaligned with what is truly needed to be healthy.  Besides Mark's Daily Apple, Robb Wolf is another great resource for people to check out-and he is also a big proponent of peak prosperity!  Thanks Chris for changing gears with the Podcast this week-personal health resiliency is something our community should focus on more.

dittyfish

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I enjoyed the podcast with

I enjoyed the podcast with Mark and I plan to seek out Animal Blueprint. He presents some compelling ideas.  One concept I might argue though was the proposition that there was not much of a need in our biological past for extended cardio performance("only short bursts to chase down dinner or avoid becoming dinner").  I recently enjoyed the book Born To Run by Christopher McDougall which would argue the opposite.  The author makes a good case that modern humans evolved to run down game over many miles and hours-- to literally run game to death(before bow and arrow type tools were available).  Cro-magnon(the first anatomically modern humans) were better endurance runners than the stronger (and larger brained) Neanderthals, and in this way were perhaps enabled to outcompete the Neanderthals.   Suffice to say that I am not an ultra runner or an anthropologist but I would not dismiss extended cardio training based on the idea that it was never required in our evolution.  Thank you for the talk gentlemen. I look forward to exploring Mark's work further.   Cheers, Wayne

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Bottom feeder.

This weekend I have been playing with my body.

I have successfully made it Ketonic. I am edging up to 8milli mol/litre. And I feel fine.

My squamus looks as though it is trying to regain a foothold. In 3 weeks time I have an appointment with Mack the Knife. By that time it should be clear. It is fading fast. Cancer craves Sugar.

I keep a little Ikran Billis in the fridge. If I get the munchies, a small handfull settles it..

I must be a natural born bottom feeder.

Don't forget to use saffron. It will prevent Macular degeneration. Who wants to go blind?

If you only have a small bit of ground, consider growing saffron. It is Very Expensive. It is better to be a seller than a buyer.

I'm Just Mad about Saffron.

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ao
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chaga?

Arthur Robey wrote:

This weekend I have been playing with my body.

I have successfully made it Ketonic. I am edging up to 8milli mol/litre. And I feel fine.

My squamus looks as though it is trying to regain a foothold. In 3 weeks time I have an appointment with Mack the Knife. By that time it should be clear. It is fading fast. Cancer craves Sugar.

I keep a little Ikran Billis in the fridge. If I get the munchies, a small handfull settles it..

I must be a natural born bottom feeder.

Don't forget to use saffron. It will prevent Macular degeneration. Who wants to go blind?

If you only have a small bit of ground, consider growing saffron. It is Very Expensive. It is better to be a seller than a buyer.

I'm Just Mad about Saffron.

Arthur,

Ever hear of chaga?  We use it around these parts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inonotus_obliquus

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Thanks again AO

I had never heard of Chaga. I do believe that fungi have been battling microbes since the dawn of time and have developed some very interesting properties.

Penicillin was derived from a fungus.

Christianity disaproved of the European medicine women and stamped out nearly all their knowledge. Called them witches.

I married a Russian. Christianity got there later so the Russians are still keen mushroom hunters. The tradition has not been erased. They call them Grebe.(Gre Be, sort of.) 

This is one fascinating book on the subject.

Whoops. Mushrooms are a rich topic. I got side tracked. Anyway, Paul Stammets is your man.

http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_w...

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A Passion for Fungi.

We should start a fungi thread.

AO's lead is very interesting.

 Recent scientific research in Japan and China has been focused more on the anticancer potential and showed the effects of these specific polysaccharides to be comparable to chemotherapy and radiation, but without the side effects.[11][12] Further research indicated these polysaccharides have strong anti-inflammatory[10] and immune balancing properties,[13] stimulating the body to produce natural killer(NK) cells to battle infections and tumor growth, instead of showing a direct toxicity against pathogens. This property makes well-prepared medicinal mushroom extracts stand out from standard pharmaceuticals - no side effects will occur or develop; the body is healing itself, triggered into action by the BRM effect of the chaga extract.[14] Herbalist David Winston maintains it is the strongest anticancer medicinal mushroom. Russian literature Nobel Prize laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote two pages on the medicinal use and value of chaga in his autobiographical novel, based on his experiences in a hospital in TashkentCancer Ward (1968).

Wiki.

I do hope that the authors are not allowing their enthusiasm to get the better of them.

Here is what the beauty looks like. I seem to recall seeing it.

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Good Listening

I regularly see in depth reviews of books, programs and products by people who clearly haven't read the book, honestly tried the program or owned the product.  The reviews are always at least somewhat critical.  Think about what motivates leaving such and in depth critical review of something you haven't tried.

I enjoyed the podcast and will read the book. I have very occasionally read similar books and benifited from one or two of them.

My current diet is good, rather than great.  Exercise, for me these days, is about strengthening muscle groups to counter phyrical problems I've developed over the years.  I'm 61 and have back and joint issues.  

The other concept I adopted at about 40 is a "fully functional musculature."  Basically, I wanted to enjoy any recreation on the weekend without paying a significant price in Monday pain.  I've been mostly successful with that for 20 years now.  However, I have had to tone down my recreation expectations as time marches on.  

I am still more active than most due to maintaining weight and an appropriate exercise program some of which is PT recommended.

There is always room for improvement.

The podcast is particularly appropriate on websites like Peak Prosperity.  A lower energy society will require more physical exertion.  I look around me these days and see a lot of people who will not be capable of contributing effectively in that environment.

Thanks Mark. 

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Pleasant Surprise

What a pleasant surprise it was to see Mark on today's podcast. I've been following Mark's program (as well as the related paleo diet, crossfit, barefoot(ish) running scene in general) for at least 3 years now and Mark was my first dose and a great inspiration. No more blood sugar swings, I'm down 30 lbs, I've put on muscle I never had, my blood pressure is normal again, cholestrol is normal, and even though I no longer distance run 3x/wk like I used to, I still make PRs when I do decide to run a 5k or 10k for fun.

Sometimes people get really caught up in the minor points and newcomers can get overwhelmed but I think there are a few simple things one can do to make huge change: 1.) cut out gluten, even if you aren't celiac. 2.) reduce your consumption of processed foods (most importantly processed sugar). 3.) 80/20... just do your 80% best and don't sweat the 20% cheat. If you focus on nothing more than those 3 points you'll see dramatic changes in your body.

The easiest way for me to make these dietary changes was to stop stocking bread and pasta in the pantry. I just stopped allowing myself to buy it. When the pantry was starting to get bare I really had to start thinking differently about what I'm gong to cook. Huge crocks of soups, curries, and slow cooker roasts started happening a lot more and my food costs started plummeting due to making several days worth in bulk. And I started enjoying bacon and eggs with some veggies every day for breakfast. Delicious!

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sand_puppy
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Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Anyone see this movie:  Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead?  It is a similar personal transformation-of-health story where a guy realizes that no one can save him but himself and embarks on a major journey to find health.  Here is a review from Joe Mercola, a physician/health advocate blogger:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/02/02/fat-sick-nearly-dead-documentary.aspx?e_cid=20130202_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20130202

The specific content is slightly different than Mark Sisson's, but the story of personal health transformation is wonderful and inspiring.

There is a field of medicine that VERY closely aligns with Mark Sisson's philosophy.  It is being called "Functional Medicine."  Members include Nutritionists, Naturopaths, nutritionally oriented Chiropractors and about 30% are traditional MDs and DOs who are eager to find something that actually promotes health.  (Traditional medicine is NOT AT ALL concerned with restoring true health, but about limiting complications and symptoms of diseases.)

Another similar place this story is heard is in Mark Hyman's book, "The Blood Sugar Solution" specifically aimed at people with "Diabesity" (insulin resitance with excessive abdominal fat).  This Functional Medicine approach is almost identical to Mark Sisson's.  http://drhyman.com/  (Dr Hyman's website is a bit glitzy which turns some people off, but the science and the message is very sound in my opinion.)  Mark Hyman is the current chairman of The Institute for Functional Medicine.  http://www.functionalmedicine.org/

Chris, thanks for including health in the scope of converstations about resilince. 

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John Lemieux
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Jack Rabbit, a great example of good health and fitness

I posted this little film a while ago but I think it's worth putting out there again. "Jack Rabbit" lived to be over 100 years old. And I believe and he was very active and mentally sharp even in his 90's.

And the interesting thing is that he lost almost everything he had when he was around 50. That was because all his investments were in stocks at the time of the stock market crash of 29. 

http://www.nfb.ca/film/jack_rabbit

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So good a personal comment is necessary

OK, I'm the guy who normally posts news link without comment. Now for the personal story. I'll try to make this short:

Over the past nine months or so I have cut almost 100% of the grains and sweets. Favorite foods:

1) Avocado

2) Raw nuts

3) California raisins

4) Small quantities of any meat that doesn't have preservatives or msg

5) pineapple

6) bananas

7) Eggs

I'm also over 50 and am just 5 foot 6 inches. My top weight was around 155, so weight was never a big issue. After eating this I lost almost every bit of the belly fat and am down to 135 pounds. This may sound light, but I actually gained muscle weight and for the first time in my life my workout is able to include 100 yard sprints on an extremely steep uphill. I couldn't run this hill in high school. Resting pulse rate before my workout has dropped from around 60 to the high 40s.

While I have a very healthy appetite, the high fat in my diet means I only get hungry twice a day.

Supplements include just a multivitamin and high doses of the spice turmeric. Studies show that turmeric stops and/or prevents inflammation. Please do your own Google search for the link between inflammation and any of the major diseases that haunt us.

The point is that dropping the processed food, the sweets and the grains has had very dramatic results.

Thanks Chris and Mark.

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cmartenson
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On Health And Fitness

I certainly agree with ao's comments that there's a lot of specificity to be wrestled with as each person is unique.

However, I think the broad outlines are these:

  • Carbohydrates in the form of breads and sweets are easy to overdo and, if I had to pick one dietary villain, they are the main cause of unwanted weight gain.
  • Exercise does not require a gym, several hours a day (or even an hour), or special equipment and is best if it is also enjoyable.

While individual mileage will vary, I will happily restate that I am in the best form of my life here at 50 and I can best summarize my exercise success in two words:  Every day.

I do something, anything, every day.  It does not take much time at all, and it helps to counter my otherwise very sedentary job of sitting in front of a computer reading and writing.  I will regularly get up and do a set of pushups.  Or planks.  Or Sit ups.  

My favorite routine performed each morning involves a Pandora channel I have carefully curated that I stretch, flex and lift to.  I have a chair I use to do dips, a rug that I do pushups and sit ups on, and one set of 35# dumbbells for curls and lifts.

The point being, regular household items work just fine.  At least for me.

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no lack of studies

This sounds very similar to what I've done - a low carb combination of the South Beach Diet (tons of studies) and the Atkins Diet. I call it the Wendy's Private Beach Diet. And I am always willing to tweak it so I'm glad to meet you. Mark!

Getting rid of all processed carbs and cutting most carbs, increasing fats, veggies and protein meant my severe allergies dissapeared, and my chronic, debilitating depression vanished. I went don from a size 26 to an 18 in six months (blew through two wardobes on th way down.)

I like your idea of constant, low-level activity with bursts of intensity,

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Years of Environmental and Diet Abuse

Good advice but if your body is plugged with Reverse T3 you will be frustrated.  Many are low in Iron (e.g. viruses lower iron since they need it too) which causes Thyroid T4 to be converted to Reverse T3 instead of the energizer T3.

There is even a workout called "The Big 5 Workout" that is along the same lines but only takes 12 minutes per week in the gym.   Each of the 5 exercises targets a "muscle group" and is done for 90-120 seconds very slowly until exhaustion (i.e. cannot move the weight anymore with max effort; why machines work better for this).   The doctor who created it explains that a muscle takes 5-7 days to recover from a hard workout so if you go more often you tend to injure yourself.   I can imagine in the hunter gatherer times tag teams that would rotate going out on hunts and such.

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So the answer is, what Mom says...

....everything in moderation.

Eat local when you can, and if you have played hard your whole life it isn't actually beneficial because old injuries do come back and reclaim their prey (trust me). Unless of course you were brought up to exercise but God forbid no real physical contact as that is just silly Buffy. Tennis and Golf is wonderful exercise, badminton anyone?

I like very much these sports too but when younger it was the traditional cheeper sports I played, the ones that were FREE in other words.

Everybody has a specific life and that is that. The exceptions are just that, and the norms are every day Folk like most of us every day Folks.

It is specific to each person, I totally agree, and is why anyone's opinion regarding my life and what I should do is taken with a grain of salt. Except for the value of exercise. Unless of course exercise is causing the pain and butt in the chair syndrome.

Protein burns and carbs lay as fat layers. Who don't understand this?

Again, they lived to what age in before Christ? Before the 1930's, and what now? It has always been about antibiotics and will remain about antibiotics.

OK, no help here then. I'll go back to my plan as I was cleared today to resume light work outs. I'll jump rope and walk.

BOB

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Chaga, Reishi , and Trametes Versicolor

Arthur, 

         I combine Chaga, Reishi and Trametes Versicolor in water and simmer about 2 hours. I drink one cup a day for 2 -3 weeks stop a few weeks ...so on and so forth. The chaga is also very good for the nervous system. I can feel it's effects on my sleep pattern. Nice deep calm sleep and I'm more focused during the day. All these mushrooms are highly effective against many cancers. In Japan, the Reishi mushroom is used in combo with chemotherapy treatment and its 35% of Japan's cancer treatment budget. These mushrooms are also anti inflamatory.  For maximum potency Chaga should be made in a tincture.  Alcohol extraction isolates the water-insoluble components, betulinic acid, betulin and the phytosterols. This extraction process is in general used as a second step after hot-water extraction, since ethanol alone will not break down chitin effectively - heat is essential.

Do not use these mushrooms in combo with antibiotics. Chaga shouldn't be consumed if you're using blood thinners.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trametes_versicolor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingzhi_mushroom

Check out Paul Stamets on you tube. Fastinating !!

Good luck Arthur.

Sonya

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understand your weaknesses

I think it's important every one figure out for themselves what diet and excercise works for them, and acknowledge when something is not working.  For me, while I eat high quality simple food and am fit enough to anything from shovel compost in my garden to run 100 mile trail races, I often don't get enough sleep.  I'm learnng now I need to listen to my body when my endocrine system is getting run down and take a break.

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"I need to listen to my body

"I need to listen to my body when my endocrine system is getting run down and take a break":

  This is why most elite athletes suffer "depression".  It is really their endrocrine system crashing from stress.  This stress can be pschological too (e.g. you are a teammate of Lance Armstrong).   If you are burned out chronically get your Reverse T3 checked (Direct Labs is good as your regular Doc will think you are crazy). 

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As for physical activity I'm

As for physical activity I'm a sales rep in ceramic tile industry,so I get my daily excercise lugging around these sample boards around to my clients.  I've always been active , gym a few years , kung fu chinese boxing 4-5 years and finally I've found the right excersise that's good for my body . Once a week ,a one and a half hour of  Yin and Yang Yoga. It's good for ALL the muscles. You get to built muscle and stretch them too. The nervous system  ( spinal cord, mind and breathe) gets the most benefit out of that pratice. This is what works for me and a heathly diet.....all in moderation! You got to live too.

Sonya

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Baby boomers not the "healthiest generation"

From a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study:

Baby Boomers: Not the ‘Healthiest Generation’

In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that a sample of the baby boom generation, the 78 million Americans who were born in the post-war birth explosion from 1946 to 1964, were less healthy than many of their parents. Never mind the fact that Baby boomers have been dubbed the Healthiest Generation, since they have the longest life expectancy of any previous generation, and that  they were able to exploit advances in medical care and reap the benefits of public health campaigns highlighting the dangers of smoking and unhealthy diets. That moniker may simply no longer apply, since it turns out that they have higher rates of hypertensiondiabetes, obesity and high cholesterol than members of the previous generation.

A good example of how prosperity doesn't simply come from having more options. You also need prudent societal values (like valuing health and community as much as money) as well as the individual discipline to make responsible choices (like moderating sweets, or persisting with an exercise regimen). Mark's Primal program is a good vehicle for strengthening the latter.

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Sharing on Facebook

If I use the Share function below the podcast to publish a restricted article/podcast on Facebook, do my Facebook contacts need to be paid members in order to see the contents?

By the way, outstanding podcast. I loved all the "out of the box" thinking here, in a way very similar to how Chris and his contributors expose and elaborate their ideas.

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Adam Taggart
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Sharing podcasts

Myst -

Yes, if you share an enrolled member-only podcast (like the Off The Cuff series), your friends will need to also be enrolled members in order to access it.

But all of our Featured Voices podcasts, such as this one with Mark Sisson, are available to all. So share freely!

A

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ao
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some personal thoughts on exercise and nutrition
I've always joked around that I was going to write the quintessential "diet" book.  It would be filled with blank pages with only two pages with words on them.  Those pages would say:
 
"Awareness"
 
and
 
"Move more, eat less."
 
Most people are our culture are unaware ... unaware physically, mentally, spiritually, politically, economically, and almost any other way you can imagine.  When you are aware (and educated as to possibilities), you can feel and know what is good for you and what isn't.  You wouldn't sit around like a lump and neither would you beat the hell out of your body by doing ultra-marathons and certain body damaging Western sports.  You would learn you need to lay and build foundational control and strength before challenging your body at higher levels.  You would have developmental movement patterns and reflexes integrated before you attempted higher level movements and skills.  You would have optimal joint mobility, optimal muscle length and strength, and optimal neuromotor control and kinesthetic awareness before initiating high speed and high load activities.  You would realize you need to exercise fast sometimes (like chain punching or cycling kicking, vibrational exercises, plometrics, sprinting, etc.) and slow other times (qi gong, Tai Chi, and Tibetan or Indian yoga).  You need to put high tension in your muscles (high load calisthenics like push-ups or pull-ups, dumbbell or kettlebell training, dynamic tension isometrics, etc.) and low tension at other times (relaxation, stretching, Trager mentastics, German loosening, etc.).  You need to hit the major energy systems (e.g. phosphocreatine, lactic acid, aerobic) with appropriate brief, moderate, and longer exercise/work intervals, each at different times and at intensities inversely proportional to their length.  You need to work on joint stability and on joint mobility.  You need to be able to breath deeply and fully (one of the most important "good" things you can do for your body) and you need to be able to hold your breath for a long period if need be.  You need to do work activities and you need to do play activities.  You need to move and you need to be still.  You need to exercise/play/work and you need to rest/sleep.  You need light and sunshine and you need complete darkness.  In other words, you use your awareness to achieve balance. 
 
With regards to food, if you are aware, you will learn to eat for long term health, vitality, and energy, not for short term pleasure, satiation, or sedation.  You'd eat wild game and fish and wild foods, which are more nutritious and higher in life energy than almost any domesticated food.  Barring access to those foods, you'd eat meat (including organs meats), poultry, fish, and eggs from high quality organic sources.  You'd eat an abundance and diversity of vegetables, of different colors, and from different parts of the plant and many, not just one or two, at one meal.  You'd learn to use spices appropriately and not have to adulterate your food with sauces, salts, sweets. etc.  You'd eat fruits, nuts, and seeds. Grains and legumes would be optional (depending upon metabolic type) but when you eat them, you'd eat them more as a complementary condiment than as a main course.  Ditto with dairy.  You'd eat foods as close to their natural form as possible and raw, if possible and safe.  You'd use cooking methods like steaming for vegetables that cause the least damage to the quality of the food.  You'd recognize that the more you eat out of jars, cans, boxes, or packages, the less healthy you will be.  You'd know that the more your food is refined, processed, factory farm raised, GMOed, or otherwise adulterated, the less healthy you will be.  As one of my friends jokes, you wouldn't eat anything white (white flour, white sugar, white salt) and you should eat green things before they turn brown and brown things before they turn green.  Besides learning to eat, you will also learn to fast and the benefits and applications of fasting.  Again, you will strive for balance.
 
When you move, you will move intelligently and with variety and more.
 
When you eat, you will eat intelligently and with variety and less.
 
It's all very simple really.
 
I won't say I endorse ALL his ideas but here's someone I find that my personal philosophy of exercise and nutrition is fairly close to, Paul Chek. 
 
 
And here's a book he wrote which is very good.
 
 
Overall, I find the Taoists' health philosophy is be one of the my favorites and I like cheng hsin, systema, ba gua, aikido, and hwa rang do best for movement skill and qi gong, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, and Trager Approach best for movement awareness.  But there are a myriad of movement and exercise forms across the planet, each of which have something of value to offer.
 
Peter Ralston's book is one of the best.
 
 
Unfortunately, I find traditional exercise systems advanced by most personal trainers, exercise physiologists, physical therapist, and "health and exercise experts" tend to ignore the following:
 
- Breathing and energy flow exercise (to enhance life energy)
 
- Neurosensorimotor exercise (for enhancing kinesthetic awareness, neuromotor control and coordination, and brain function)
 
- Autonomic nervous system exercise (to control heart rate, respiratory rate, blood flow, cold and heat tolerance, etc.)
 
- Spinchter exercises (the secret of the Kirov ballet, coordinating the anal, urogenital, oral, ocular, nasal and other sphincteral muscles with foot and hand movements)
 
- Loosening exercises (not stretching or self-mobilization but dynamic releasing of tension)
 
Training in these areas takes one to a whole new level of health, fitness, function, resilience, and preparedness.
 
YMMV.
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Arthur Robey
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Bookmarked.

This thread has been that good that I have bookmarked it for future reference.

Dropping all Carbs works for me. Chronic inflamation and leasions heal. Now I eye Alexander the Grape with suspicion.

Thanks all.

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Thanks John and Locksmithuk

I appreciate the advice and words of wisdom. I am lucky that my situation isn't worse and I'm grateful for my wife putting me on a healthy diet a long time ago filled with local farm goods. My daughter has benefitted from her prowess as well since she has never seen the inside of a fast-food restaurant...she prefers salad to pizza (nice!).

Yes, why not start a fungi thread? Let's make it a fungus thread to be all inclusive. Wouldn't want to leave the fungal out. surprise Okay, I know...don't quit my day job.

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saxplayer00o1
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Jack Lalanne - Body and Mind Connection

This very old talk that he gave sounds like what people should be told today:

Jack Lalanne - Body and Mind Connection 

Here he was at 80:

JACK LaLANNE - DATELINE USA 1994

ao's picture
ao
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saxplayer00o1 wrote: This

saxplayer00o1 wrote:

This very old talk that he gave sounds like what people should be told today:

Jack Lalanne - Body and Mind Connection 

Here he was at 80:

JACK LaLANNE - DATELINE USA 1994

One of my heroes.  He was way ahead of his time.  Thanks for recognizing him. 

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