So…Mark Sisson sent me a copy of his book to review. Over a YEAR ago. I was just sitting down and really outlining my book when The Primal Blueprint (TPB) arrived and I told Mark I’d get a review done when the outline was finished. I started leafing through the book and telling Nicki how good it was and then my wife, who knows me all too well, she hid TPB. And Light’s Out, and Protein Power: Life Plan and several of my other go-to books. What Nicki knew was that I was going to leaf through Mark’s book and say “I don’t need to write a book, look, he has all this stuff covered.” Which is what I’d been doing for the better part of five years and I think she Andy and most of the other folks who know me were at their wit’s end. I’d back-peddle on writing a book and then lament that I thought I might have some input on the topic. Well, I was issued a few ultimatums, TPB was MIA and I set to writing my book. Over a year later and I’m finally following through on that review!
As an overview (if you do not want to read a bunch of details) TPB is EXCELELNT. Mark is funny, spot on with the science and he tackles the whole thing from the perspective of a coach (sound familiar?). This is why, on a macro-scale TPB works so well and has been so popular. It’s a well-written book, it’s accessible, and it’s based on approaches that actually work for people.
I’m going to hit a few high-points that stuck out particularly:
Chapter 1-The Ten Primal Blueprint laws
I really like this approach of “chunking” information. It makes retention better, folks grasp and integrate the high points. Here is an overview and description of those Ten Laws.
In the first two Laws Mark cover’s just about everything you need to know about paleo: 1-Eat lots of plants & animals. 2-Avoid poisonous things. Hmm…you get all the nutrition you need and you can explain things like grain intolerance with a few simple rules. BRILLIANT. This allows for a nice balance between an analysis of the anthropological record and the ability to simply rely on the molecular biology that explains grain intolerances. Mark hits all the important stuff: sleep, sunlight, lifting, sprinting, playing, using yer knoggin’.
Chapter 6-The Primal Blueprint Exercise Laws: Walk, Lift, Sprint.
We talk a good bit about the interplay between Performance, Health and Longevity on this blog and on the podcast. Mark does not lay things out quite in those terms in the book, but you see his obvious similarities in how and what he recommends. His foundation is to perform “a lot” of low-level fun activity, preferably outside. Lift some weights once in a while to maintain a solid level of strength and muscle mass, hit some sprints occasionally to boost growth hormone, maintain power and generally be able to kick-ass! Mark was an elite endurance athlete and coach so he is coming at all this from a very different place than I am as a former power lifter, yet the prescription is the same. Hmmm. Maybe because it works!
When folks ask about an optimization of fitness, I think something like Marks recommendations and Art Devany’s old hierarchal + A-lactic sets plus some scampering are where it’s at. Minimum investment, maximum return. CrossFit used to have this Economics orientation but unfortunately they’ve gotten enamored with more, more more.
You can also download a free copy of TPB free fitness E-book.
The prescription is correct; Mark helps you get going regardless of fitness background. No Excuses!
Chapter 8-A Primal Approach to Weight Loss-Primal breakfast, lunch and dinner
This is a great chapter in that it walks folks step by step through constructing a basic meal plan. I failed folks for years because I assumed they knew what “protein, veggies and fat” meant for a meal. On page 226 Mark uses a great graphic showing the “Carbohydrate Curve” which is a simply way to convey a ton of information. It encapsulates the levels of carbs seen in ketosis, effortless weight loss, weight maintenance, and when the carb levels start creating metabolic problems. This is easy for folks to read and understand and really drives home the importance of Marks recommendations for fat, protein, and veggies as the route to easy fat loss.
I’m almost 40, Mark is in his mid-50’s. You start to notice the MILEAGE after awhile. A lot of that mileage can be attributed to bad decisions. Many of my friends who are no longer alive met their demise because of bad decisions, lack of attention during critical moments. In an earlier chapter Mark makes a point that life can be dull and repetitious, that folks end up buying stuff to try to fill some funny void they feel (I talk about the same stuff in my Cortisol chapter). The other side of this is the hurting/killing yourself because of a lack of thinking. This is a great chapter whether you are a whipper-snapper or old & crusty.
Low Carb Wrap
I really like TPB. I’d be shocked if you do not also. It’s funny, informative and spot on if your goal is to optimize performance, health and longevity. Mark and I differ on a few points, he is a bit more freewheeling with dairy than I am but that’s about it. What Mark has done, both with the book and his damn impressive website is create a place where folks can get solid, accessible information they can apply today to make their lives better tomorrow. I will ALWAYS bemoan not thinking of Grok first! I am a huge fan of Stranger in a Strange land and to be able to say “I Grok thus” would just be bad-ass.
My wife Grok’d that if I started reading The Primal Blueprint I’d likely not write my book. She knows me better than I know myself.