Healthy habits I have been practicing these days…
[Part 1] Primal Living
For the last year or so, I have been experimenting with different ways of eating. I stick to a general routine of lots of proteins, vegetables, and some fruit with grains mixed in here and there. However, I have looked at ayurveda, which has to do with eating in tune with the seasons (among many other things). I will occasionally have a “vegetarian” day as well. Despite my attempts otherwise, I keep coming back to this notion of primal living, and the evidence is so convincing that I just can’t seem to ignore it.
The concept of primal living goes against the grain, so to speak, and defies many conventional ideas about diet and lifestyle.
I have been following Mark Sisson over at Mark’s Daily Apple for a while now, and I had a tough time at first digesting what he had to say. He speaks very poorly of grains. Very poorly. And my ego was not willing to accept that my morning quinoa or millet might be anything less than stellar. Accordingly to the research and general logic in The Primal Blueprint, however, our bodies were simply not made to digest grain. In Sisson’s book, he teaches that grains only came around 10,000 or so years ago as the agricultural age began (an eternity, right?), which is not comparable to the length of time other plants and animals have been used as sustenance. Thus, the evolution of our digestive systems have not caught up to the needs of digesting these carbohydrates. Thus, they cause havoc.
Here are the ten laws of primal living as drawn out in The Primal Blueprint:
- Eat lots of plants and animals. Enjoy the natural, satisfying foods that fueled two million years of human evolution.
- Avoid poisonous things. Avoid processed foods (sugars, grains, and chemically altered fats) that are foreign to our genes and make us fat and sick.
- Move frequently at a slow pace. Enhance fat metabolism and avoid burnout by keeping active but taking it easy.
- Lift heavy things. Short, intense sessions of functional, full-body movements support muscle development and delay aging.
- Sprint once in a while. Occaional all-out sprints trigger optimal gene expression and beneficial hormone flow. This depends on body ability.
- Get adequate sleep. Avoid excessive digital stimulation and sync with your natural circadian rhythm for optimal immune, brain, and endocrine function.
- Play! Balance the stress of modern life with some unstructured, physical fun.
- Get adequate sunlight. Don’t fear the sun! Adequate sun exposure helps synthesize vitamin D to ensure healthy cellular function.
- Avoid stupid mistakes. Cultivate hypervigilance and risk management to avoid stupid mistakes that bring “avoidable suffering” to modern humans.
- Use your brain. Engage in creative and stimulating activities to nurture your mental health and overall well-being.
I have been implementing these laws slowly over the last few months.
After years of chronic cardio and many minutes logged on the elliptical machine, I have brought myself down to a slower pace and ultimately have seen my body achieve relative balance. After gaining fifteen pounds and losing a lot of muscle from sedentary life with an injury, I lost a little bit of the weight by doing cardio. But, I found myself frustrated because I felt like I was killing myself on the treadmill every day at a high incline to get my heart rate in an ideal range. Not to mention, I still felt like crap. Once I slowed it down and started walking every day outside at a pace that I found suitable for my body, I saw the weight fall off. I lost a total of thirty pounds. At this point, I no longer weigh myself, but I am happy with the fitness of my body.
Also, I have decided to try out reducing my grains for a little while. I have a couple of pieces of fruit throughout the day: a green apple, some berries, or a grapefruit. My energy needs are not so demanding, so my body does not need as many sources of carbohydrates. I like to get my carbs from squashes and my fruits. However, if I were still training like I did for my sport, I would probably bring in more grains or higher carb fruits like bananas, coconut water, and summer citrus.
In the winter months in New England, we believe sunlight can be hard to come by. I challenge that notion because I have found a way to get outside at least a couple of times per week all winter. And now spring is on the horizon! These days, I will go for a walk in the trails or up the hills. If it’s above 30 degrees, you can find me in my red-hot sweatpants on the streets.
There is so much more to share than what I have listed above. I will report back on my primal lifestyle, but so far I am liking it. It incorporates my ideals of rest time, listening to the body, eating quality foods, and taking more time to do the things I love. We spend so much time feeling obligated to do things when we should feel perfectly content with the a wholesome, fulfilling life and the intermittent afternoon nap.