What Does a “Primal” or “Paleo” Lifestyle Mean?
To me it means reconnecting with the earth, focusing on what it provides for us and why we need such elements for optimal health. What do we really need to live well, be healthy and enjoy quality of life? We are advancing leaps and bounds technologically and finding ways to do “more” with less time, but are we compromising our wellbeing? Have we lost a sense of what nourishes our body and mind and truly makes us feel good?
Take a step back, unplug and ask yourself how you can maximize your health. Consider these elements:
The food you eat is just ONE component of health, but it’s arguably the most important. Just think…our cells GROW, LIVE and THRIVE as a result of the nutrients we eat. If our cells (and therefore our bodies) aren’t flourishing, what are we left with?
The focus should begin here, with food. But, what foods? Looking back at the foods that helped fuel our species as we came to be may give us good insight into what we are genetically designed to eat. Our ancestors ate real, whole foods; foods from the land; foods they could hunt and gather. While our plates today may not look exactly as they did tens of thousands of years ago, we can use these concepts to make quality choices in our modern world.
- Meat (ideally 100% grass-fed), fowl (ideally pasture-raised), fish (ideally wild-caught), eggs (preferably pasture-raised)
- Nuts, seeds and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, nut)
These are the foods that make up the “paleo” framework. These are the foods that together are argued to best fuel, heal and support our bodies. They offer the densest nutrition, require the least processing to eat, and seem to best reduce our risk of the diseases we are most afflicted with today. They are the foods that our lean, agile and athletic ancestors hunted and gathered prior to the Agricultural Revolution (around 10,000 years ago).
Reduce or Eliminate:
- Sugar and processed foods
These are the foods that we try to eat less of, or eliminate, with a “primal” lifestyle. Such foods are being shown to have a potentially negative impact our health. The less of such foods you consume, the greater your potential may be to reach and maintain hormonal and metabolic balance, burn fat, reduce inflammation, improve gut health, eliminate food cravings and addictions, and maximize the nutritional quality of food.
Sleep is when your body recovers, heals, grows and prepares for a new day. Lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep can inhibit your body from functioning properly. To decrease stress, be an efficient fat-burner and improve productivity take a look at your sleep habits.
We all know that exercise is an important element of “health”. The primal approach to fitness includes high-intensity, varied, and functional movement.
- Lift (relatively) heavy things (safely and under proper supervision)
- Sprint (move quickly for short durations)
- Occasionally move slowly for long durations (hike, walk, swim and explore at a low intensity)
- Stretch to improve mobility and posture
Remember: more is NOT always better when it comes to exercise.
4. Touch the Earth
It can be easy to go through life without actually touching or feeling the Earth! But, there may be some important health benefits to getting your hands and feet a little dirty now and then. It’s hard to argue that it feels good to get outside, soak up the sun’s rays (get your dose of vitamin D) and feel the grass in your toes.
Find time to actively play. Do something you physically and emotionally enjoy. Have fun.
6. Reduce Stress
As a society, we are over-stressed. We work long hours, over-commit, and under-sleep. Find ways to reduce the stress in your life, by reprioritizing your daily tasks or using effective stress-management techniques.
7. Seek Social Support
When making health behavior changes or when trying to maintain new habits, it can be incredibly helpful to seek social support. Surround yourself with people who make you happy, live the way you want to live and are there to encourage and support you.