Eating or living a paleolithic lifestyle mainly consists of eating real unprocessed high quality whole foods that humans have been eating for hundreds of thousands of years: meat, fish, eggs, nuts, vegetables and fruits. It also includes moving and exercising in natural ways that our genes are programmed for, getting enough sunlight, getting more sleep, reducing stress, playing and having fun.
At first glance this may seem pretty simple and really it is. The biggest factor of success in my experience has been aligning my life and goals towards the life and person I want to be. Let me explain.
After College, I got a job. I disliked the job and realized it was ill-suited towards my DNA, personality and temperment. I didn’t enjoy the confinement of an office, the minimal direct communication and wear and tear it put on my body from constant inactivity. Over time my body would have undergone hormesis and adapted to this negative stimulus that I was placing on my body and I would have become unhappy with my life, disliked my physical appearance and abilities and been nostalgic for times when I wasn’t confined to this modern zoo. Erwan Le Corre explains the “Zoo” best:
The “zoo” is a modern, global and growing phenomenon generated by the powerful combination of social conventions, technological environment and commercial pressures. Increasingly disconnected from the natural world and their universal biological needs, zoo humans are suffering physically, mentally and spiritually.
Are you experiencing chronic pains, are you overweight, do you often feel depressed or do you suffer from frequent illnesses and general lack of vitality?
These symptoms indicate that you are experiencing the zoo human syndrome. Modern society conditions us to think that this is normal and unavoidable.
I saw where my life was leading and made a decision to change. I built a garage gym, quit my job and changed my social influences. Over the last 4 years this is what I have learned.
- Know when to eat for fuel and when to enjoy food. I hate to be the guy to throw out arbitrary percentages, but roughly 80% of the time we need to eat, we eat to have energy. Breakfast before work, a quick lunch by ourselves, a snack to keep our energy levels up. Why eat something less than ideal under these circumstances? Why not eat clean (meat, veggies, nuts, seeds, some fruit etc.) under these conditions and when you are in the presence of special occasions, relax a little to enjoy the experience. A few chips and salsa anyone? This is my version of the 80/20 rule that is so often referred to with diets.
- Change the people you surround yourself with. Do you go out every weekend and make poor decisions? Do you drink more than 2 nights a week? I have been there and done that. Truly, this still occurs from time to time, but I tighten things up and get back on the wagon. In my experience, when I started spending more time with people who were health conscience rather than my friends who’s main objective was to party on the weekend, I got fitter, leaner, healthier and enjoyed where I was going.
- Avoid/moderate/eliminate alcohol, sugar and bread as much as your lifestyle will allow. Don’t get me wrong I love these things, but over the course of the last 4 years I have learned that my body does infinitely better without these things than with them. The more I can eliminate them the better. But there is a caveat here though. If you go overboard and try to find perfection, you are setting yourself up for failure, and honestly life is too short. Life is about moderation and not about extreme self-control. Yes, in a perfect world no one would eat any of this garbage, but a little here or there is good for your piece of mind. It actually helps with your stress management as well because if you are creating all these restrictions in your life, you tend to stress yourself out. Eat clean when the time is right and enjoy food and the experience with family and friends when there are special occasions. Play with this balance to suit your goals, lifestyle and how you want to play your cards.
- Individualize your prescription. Some people can handle milk and some cannot. Some people want to put on size and other want improve their body composition. What are your individual goals, health restrictions and mental tolerances? Use this information and align it towards your goals. A good example is when I am feeling like I want to put on some strength and consequently size, I will add milk back into my post-workout nutrition. When I am feeling like I need to improve my body composition I cut out dairy.
- Constantly seek new information. It pays to stay informed. The way I interpreted Paleo when I first began and how I do now are slightly different. My philosophy has evolved and I have used the information to make more educated decisions. Seek out new information rather than close yourself off on an island.
- Don’t blindly adhere to Paleo. I try to minimize using the word Paleo. With any underground movement that has surfaced to become more mainstream, often it has blind followers. My philosophy is built off the foundation of a paleolithic philosophy, but it is not the only diet that works. People have found success on just about every diet out there. Lets try to find the similarities that work for people on different diets and use this knowledge to our advantage. Eat till 80% full, base the majority of your diet on unprocessed foods (grown from ground or was once living and minimize the involvement of industrialized processes), limit the distance that food travels to your plate, learn to become sustainable with your dietary choices and drink more water.
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