Reading The Primal Blueprint

So, I picked up Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint from the library and began to read. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s strange to say, but I think part of me was sort of afraid to learn what could be the inconvenient truth about grains. Pretty quickly, I noticed how well-written the book was, easy to read and even funny in parts. Mark explained everything about how the body processes carbs and what that does to our blood glucose. Surprisingly, it made a lot of sense, and none of it struck me as radical or unbelieveable.

But… I have thought the same in reading other diet and lifestyle books, like Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution and Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat. And I had definitely walked out of Weight Watchers meetings thinking, “I can really do this! This seems great!”

Something about this was different, and I think it was knowing that my sister had had such marvellous results. By this time, I had had a long phone call with her, and I could hear in her voice how much happier and healthier she felt, having been eating the Primal way for five months. She was very encouraging but put no pressure on me to try the 30-Day Challenge, saying only that since we have similar body types, she thought I’d do quite well with it. Maybe it was because we were talking about something she felt really passionate about, but she sounded like a different person, in the best possible way.

As I read the book, what really struck me what that there were health benefits that were much more compelling to me than weight loss, even though that’s what I suspect brings a lot of people to the idea. As I read, I recognized myself in a lot of the descriptions of what happens when you’re eating a conventional diet.

What surprised me most was learning about how sugar and grains can cause inflammation. Since having a baby at 28, my body has been becoming progressively and inexplicably achy. I’d never had a problem with joint pain in my life until then. It started with my knees, and my doctor recommended physio, which helped a lot when I was vigilant about doing my exercises. A few months later I noticed my hips and legs seemed achy at night as I was trying to fall asleep. Then, a few weeks ago, out of nowhere, I started having low-back pain. As I read about how this way of eating can reduce inflammation and joint pain, I had my first tinge of thinking it might be worth trying – if only for that benefit.

Also, I’d never thought of myself as someone who felt tired all the time, but as I read the book, I started paying closer attention to how my body actually felt. And what I found was that if I really thought about it, I kind of felt tired and lazy all the time.

I know, for instance, that taking my son outside to play or walk every day is really important, but so many days I have to pep myself up and really convince myself to do it. (To be fair, part of that is because ending the walk or the time outside is always a battle… he would be outside 24/7 if he could!) I’m now seeing some parallels between primal living and Dr. Karp’s advice in The Happiest Toddler on the Block (which, coincidentally, is based on the idea that as they age, toddlers progress through stages that are remarkably similar to human evolution – from charming chimp children to knee-high neanderthals to clever cave-kids to versatile villagers:

“We assume that living in a house or apartment is normal, but it’s actually a very weird environment for toddlers. That’s because for 99.9 percent of human history, children spentmost of every day frolicking…outside.”

Of course, once we get outside and get going, it’s fine, but I just don’t like constantly having to drag myself to do things that are – objectively speaking – good for us, and for the most part, really enjoyable. As I wrote in an email to my sister, I want to have consistently higher energy. There’s no reason that I shouldn’t. I’m only 30!

I was familiar with Mark’s website, Mark’s Daily Apple, from various recipes that my sister-in-law likes – but I’d never really spent much time there, learning about his ideas. So while I read the book, I started poking around the site. I read a bunch of success stories that my sister sent me, and saw that I had a lot of things in common with many of them. Then I read a bunch more! I prowled around for things that were of interest to me: going Primal without eating beef, Primal options for vegetarians, Primal on a budget, etc. I became really impressed at what a huge community of Primal folks there is, with widely varying degrees of adherence to the plan, yet with the same enthusiasm.

Once I finished the book, I felt sort of like a changed person – like I was seeing the world with fresh eyes. As I thought about how much of our diet was grain-based, it was kind of appalling. Even though I hadn’t yet started the 30-Day Challenge, I felt as if I were sort of already applying the principles to my life. But I still had some things to work out, mentally and financially, before I could proceed.

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