21 Days Away From Dumping the Federal Food Pyramid

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by Karen De Coster: Cooking
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The term "living
like a caveman" is plastered all over the mainstream news these
days, drawing in folks who are curious about this new "caveman
diet." The media has become inordinately curious as to how
so many people can overcome burdensome weight problems and scores
of health issues by adopting an eating plan that is essentially
a rejection of modern food convenience and a return to sanity through
personal responsibility.

The paleo or
"primal" lifestyle is receiving an abundance of attention
because enquiring minds want to know more about it. The main thrust
behind the paleo or primal lifestyle is that we humans are hunter-gatherers,
and our genes are partial to the real food just like our ancestors.
We have not evolved to adapt to the heavily processed, high-carbohydrate,
grain-loaded, industrial oils-based garbage diet of the modern era.
Those of us who reject this conventional diet negatively refer to
it as the Standard American Diet (SAD). The effects of this food
have been devastating on all of human health, and not only in America.
Everywhere the SAD is embraced, people are suffering all of the
same afflictions associated with modern western civilization: obesity,
diabetes, inflammation, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, cancer,
ambiguous mental disorders (such as depression and anxiety), and
dubious behavioral disorders.

Mark Sisson's
newest book, 21-Day
Total Body Transformation
, is not a gimmicky guide for daft
dieting and short-term sculpting. Instead, it's a book on how to
live real — eating real food, employing real movement, and adapting
to your modern life through the application of evolutionary principles.
The book not only challenges the Standard American Diet, but it
also rejects the overly-stressful and time-consuming exercise patterns
that have become common practice for folks who struggle to lose
weight through fitness.

Both movement
and food are crucial elements in transforming your health, and Sisson
places a high emphasis on diet because years of disinformation,
from the scientific community as well as the government-media establishment,
have confused an issue that is actually very straightforward once
you come to understand some of the basic concepts.

Don't let the
book's title mislead you — the 21-day transformation is not about
going from out-of-shape to svelte in three weeks so you cram yourself
into those undersized clothes hanging in your closet. Instead, Sisson
describes the book as a 21-day adventure, or transformation, to
eliminate old habits and replace them with new ones. He calls it
a transformation "that will last for the rest of your life."
This transformation is best described as a move from the Standard
American Diet and futile chronic exercise to primal, evolutionary-based
practices that take the most advantageous conventions from our ancestors
and reshape them for modern life. Sisson calls this "dialing
in your eating, exercise, sleep, and play for the rest of your life."

This book is
a follow-up to Sisson's mega-selling 2009 release, Primal
Blueprint
, for which Mark received many accolades for the
book's originality and precise message. For many folks, however,
adopting new habits, after a lifetime of established routines, presents
them with a thorny challenge without a blueprint to guide their
action plan. This book serves that purpose.

Sisson lays
out the framework by introducing eight key concepts that form the
core of the transition from one who engages prevailing practices
to a freethinking and empowered individual. Adherence to these concepts
will serve to reform the reader's habits and establish some new
ways of thinking that supplants conventional wisdom. The eight key
concepts are, in summary: (1) reprogramming your genes through choices
(2) discovering optimal gene expression, or finding your own perfect
recipe for health (3) transitioning from a carbohydrate-based metabolism
to a fat-burning metabolism (4) controlling body composition through
food quality (5) understanding why grains are unnecessary (6) unraveling
the lies and myths about fat (7) knowing the role of exercise in
weight management, and (8) maximizing fitness with minimal time.

Sisson lays
out five action items to drive these concepts home, and these include
taking steps to eliminate SAD foods; shopping, cooking, and dining;
making the right food choices; exercising primally; and slowing
life down in favor of balance and relaxation.

The tail end
of the book provides the reader with the 21-day challenge. I like
these challenges, not only because they are relevant, but also,
they are simple and will consume very little time on the part of
the emerging primalist. For instance, Day 1 includes my favorite
challenge of all, and that is the kitchen/pantry purge. This is,
as Sisson calls it, the elimination of any "SAD foods that
may be lurking in your house." This can be a really fun event.
I remember doing the purge years ago when I let it rip and separated
myself from the industrial-convenience food machine. My only regret
is that I didn't take photos of the wasteland of processed foods
that I pulled from every nook and cranny of my kitchen cupboards
and freezer. A photo of the post-purge gathering can be a fun —
and enforcing — reminder of our propensity to blindly follow conventional
wisdom because we are not armed with enough knowledge to repudiate
it. Sisson aims to arm you with that knowledge without having to
wade through mounds of scientific research and oodles of books.

A theme throughout
the book is one of personal responsibility, or ownership. Who owns
you (I can tell you it is not Cargill or the FDA) and who should
be responsible for you? For those of you who work in a corporate
environment, you will often hear about the notion of "ownership"
— that is, owning one's business processes, decisions, and outcomes,
and not evading that ownership for purposes of avoiding accountability.
The saying goes, you need to "own it." As a flourishing
human being, before you can own the responsibilities that have been
delegated to you, you have to own yourself. Self-ownership demands
personal responsibility. You are responsible for you, meaning you
control your own body and life. When individuals don't "own"
their own actions and outcomes, there tends to be a lack of answerability
and things tend to get mucked up pretty quickly.

One thing is
clear about the SAD – individuals adhering to it have given up responsibility
for their own health and they have delegated authority for life-and-health
decisions to umpteen food manufacturers and feedlot farm operations
while they put their trust in public health bureaucrats and believe
that anything sold as "food" must be consumable, and therefore
not harmful. Most SAD disciples have never bothered to try and understand
the ingredient list on the products they buy — a simple task that
takes only a small effort. How did a culture born on a model of
independence ever get so far away from its people owning themselves
and being responsible for their own quality of life?

Mark Sisson
provides so much good information throughout the book to support
his key concepts or "things you need to know" to make
the transformation to an independent, primal human being optimizing
life in the modern world. Sisson notes, in Key Concept #3, that
"your body prefers burning fat over carbohydrates." This
is an important element that never makes it to any mainstream-conventionalist
diet book because the war on fat is so deeply embedded in decades
of special interest-influenced government policy, corporate hype,
and reinforcement from the science community. Mark writes:

As 20th
century lifestyle "progress" took hold (eating food
from factories instead of farms, driving instead of walking, etc.),
and waistlines began to expand, Conventional Wisdom dispensed
the flawed observation that eating fat makes you fat. We were
convinced, erroneously, that carbohydrates (and the glucose and
stored glycogen they generate) are what are bodies prefer to burn,
because they burn quickly and easily, and because certain vital
organs like the brain cannot live without them.

Consequently,
industrious food manufacturers revved up their machinery to pump
out heavily-processed carbohydrate foods and beverages. We cultivated
and indulged our collective sweet tooth, and assuaged our health
ambitions by eating low-fat, grain-based meals that we truly believed
were nutritious and responsible for weight control. While the
nuances of this issue might be debated by those in the whole grain,
low-fat camp today, one unassailable truth is that the Standard
American Diet of the past few generations has been an unmitigated
disaster.

Following these
comments are several pages of indispensable material on why fats
and proteins are the preferred macronutrients over carbs, and how
you can turn from a sugar burner into an efficient fat-burning organism.

There is one
item in the book that has a special meaning for me personally, and
that is one of the success stories that Mark highlights on page
65, where he writes about Timothy Williams. Mark writes, "Timothy
stumbled upon MarksDailyApple.com in early 2010 and was immediately
intrigued by the primal theme due to his background as a student
of anthropology and early humans." My story is this: in early
2010, Timothy came across an article of mine on LewRockwell.com,
Primal
Life: A Journey of Diet and Health
, and that's when he first
reached out to me and told me about how ecstatic he was to learn
about Mark Sisson's blog,
which I had mentioned in my article. I corresponded with Timothy,
over time, after he wrote me about his success story in going primal.
Timothy, who was chunky but certainly not obese, turned his health
around and wiped out scores of health problems that were quickly
diminishing his quality of life. Each time he wrote to me, he was
brimming with joy and his letters displayed an extraordinary enthusiasm
for his newfound knowledge and health autonomy. Mark Sisson quotes
him as saying that going primal was akin to going through a second
puberty. His letters always left me with the reminder of the lives
we can change, for the good, through dedication to the facts and
the guts to stick to the unpopular truths.

Throughout
the book, Sisson's theme is unwavering — educate yourself, own your
decisions, always question the conventional wisdom, and avoid dogmatic
behaviors. With all of its concepts, summaries, success stories,
resource lists, and color-coded sections, the book is organized
like a study guide but grabs one's attention as much as any gripping
novel. I love the fire and spirit exuded by the very passionate
and eloquent Sisson.

Moreover, the
simplicity that Mark Sisson utilizes in this book is crucial, and
that's because people in the modern world are excessively consumed
with work and tasks and they don't desire to take on time-consuming
chores that promise the world and return nothing, such as with conventional
diet books. Mark offers a structured and uncomplicated system for
individuals to align themselves with their evolutionary strengths
and optimize their quality of life through the use of graduated
steps that change behavior and build good habits.

I would point
out some flaws if I found any, but my search didn't turn up anything
interesting. As an ex-printer, I can point to the nice cover photo
that appears to be washed out and a bit ashen for some reason, and
that is something I hope would get a second look in a later printing.
That aside, the attractiveness of the book is, like every Sisson
book, the result of some very talented people who know how to churn
out a readable and gorgeous production that adds value far beyond
its cost.

Eating right
— real, whole foods — is so simple, yet so misunderstood, and most
people don't have a clue where to start. Fighting through the food
demons and exercise mythology is not always a clear path at a time
when there is so much conflicting information being cranked out
from second-rate sources and so-called "health experts"
are ramming conventional nonsense down the collective throat of
the disoriented populace.

Mark Sisson
does an exceptional job of cutting through all of the unnecessary
noise and getting to the nucleus of lifestyle transformation without
all of the stress of adhering to mindless routines, calorie counting,
and diet-fail guilt. That's why this book is a great tool for the
curious, the confused, the downtrodden, and all of the folks who
churn away on hamster wheels while staring out the glass windows
of a multimedia gym factory, with no results to show for all of
the effort.

October
19, 2011

Karen De
Coster, CPA [send
her mail
] is an accounting/finance professional in the
healthcare industry and a freelance writer/blogger. She writes about
the medical establishment, Big Pharma, Big Agra, the Corporate State,
health totalitarianism, lifestyle fascism, industrial-medical-pharmaceutical
complex, and essentially, anything that encroaches upon the freedom
of her fellow human beings. She is a proponent of ancestral health
and the natural, eco-ag farming community, and she opposes the Fed’s
anti-food choice totalitarianism. This is her LewRockwell.com
archive
and her Mises.org
archive
. Check out her
website
. Follow her on Twitter @karendecoster.

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