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Grokking Grok

May 21, 2009

grok2Going Primal.

Maybe you’ve heard of it.

I encountered the idea of living and eating like our primitive ancestors about six months ago via Arthur De Vany’s Evolutionary Fitness Blog.

It looked interesting, but I didn’t give it much thought at the time, because, well, interesting or not it seemed – on the surface – a bit fanatical.

I guess I’m just happy being a modern man. I like indoor plumbing, refrigeration, running water – the amenities of modern life. Granted, primitive man was probably very fit, but I wasn’t ready to jump in and embrace the lifestyle. We evolved for a reason.

Recently, however, I came across Mark Sisson’s blog, Mark’s Daily Apple, and I don’t know if it was the vibrant presentation or if the idea just needed time to marinade in my head, but his Primal Blueprint concept really struck a chord with me.

Mark makes his caveman personal. He’s even given him a name. Grok. Great single-syllable chest-beating caveman name, but I love it because it is also a wonderful play on Robert A. Heinlein’s concept from Stranger in a Strange Land, where to “grok” something meant to fully and deeply understand it on an intimately intuitive level.

I don’t know if that was intentional on Mark’s part*, but that’s what it made me think about. And that is what helped the whole thing to gel for me.

I still don’t like the fanatical aspect of cavemanism that seems to lurk around the edges, stalking the fringe in even the most moderate posts on the subject, but I do like the tenets espoused in going Primal.

I guess when it comes down to it, I don’t really care if this is how we evolved or all the whys and wherefores that hare down that twisted path, but I deeply care about the science and the facts behind the process of going Primal.

See, I’m a diabetic, and in the five years since I was first diagnosed I have only gotten worse (largely on account of listening to my doctors and doing what they say), and I think that is why Mark’s blog in particular made sense to me.

I went from one pill for diabetes and one for high bloodpressure to two pills for diabetes, three for blood pressure, an aspirin regimen, and two pills for cholesterol and now my (former) doctor is talking about having me take insulin.

So, I started doing my own research – and that’s where things got really confusing. Because the more I learned about diabetes and what actually goes on in the body of a diabetic individual the less my doctor’s instructions made sense.

That’s about when I found Mark’s Daily Apple.

One thing Mark talks about non-stop is diabetes. Only, what he’s saying about it actually makes sense when compared to the research. The fact that he spends a great deal of time snubbing Conventional Wisdom (he uses the term so much in his blog he often just shortens it to CW) and established “medicine” had me on the verge of cheering.

It was kinda liberating hearing someone saying outright all the things I’d begun to suspect about the medical/pharmaceutical community.

So what is the Primal Blueprint? Well, apparently there’s a whole book’s worth of information, but Mark breaks it down into ten basic points in this post.

  1. Eat lots of animals, insects, and plants (veggie plants, not grain plants).
  2. Move around a lot at a slow pace
  3. Lift heavy things
  4. Run really fast every once in a while
  5. Get lots of sleep
  6. Play
  7. Get some sunlight every day
  8. Avoid trauma
  9. Avoid poisonous things
  10. Use your mind

That’s it.

Diet-wise, the key is to remove grains completely. No “If it’s made with whole grains . . .” compromises – just get rid of them. Don’t eat them. And deep six sugar and processed foods.

Again, stuff that I already suspected.

As for the workout. Lots of basic movement, intense but brief strength training. Intermittent sprinting. It’s essentially the plan I built for myself through trial and error over the years as “conventional” fitness wisdom failed me on a regular basis.

So, yeah, I’m not ready to grok-out and insist on Primal as the be-all/end-all of health and fitness truths . . . but for me personally, I think it’s exactly what the doctor should have ordered. Years ago.

Grok Image from Mark’s Daily Apple (lettering is Segoe font heavily chisled down in Photoshop) – If you’re into that sort of thing, you can click on Grok to order your own Grok On! t-shirt.

*Update: Turns out it was intentional, I just hadn’t read far enough yet.

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