Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to Get Started in "Paleo"... and Where It Leads

There are 100+ ways to define paleo. Primal is just a more specific version. And while my paleo kitchen may not even match up ideologically with some of the other folks I swap recipes and produce with... it all falls under the same paleo template. Look... What works for me may not work exactly as well for you. We're all built and wired (physically, mentally and emotionally) differently.

I had a friend call me the other day and ask me what I've been doing to get healthier. He's put on some extra weight and is now frustrated to the point where he's willing to try what has worked for me. Which begged the question... How do I explain to him what worked for me? I decided to keep it simple. Below is the one page summary (italicized) that I sent him... my best effort to spell out what a paleo/primal lifestyle requires.

Anyone can do this… because it’s easy.  Most people won’t… because it’s “too hard.”

80% of body composition change is tied to what you eat. Fat loss is diet.  Muscle gain is diet and exercise… but even so, you can gain muscle by eating the right things and not working out.

Train like a monster, not like a hamster.  Constant cardio for the purpose of losing weight… scares me.  Constant cardio will make a person lose as much muscle weight as fat weight.  I don’t want to lose muscle.  I want to use muscle.  Do you want to be the hamster on the treadmill or the king of the jungle? News flash: Lions don’t do cardio to maintain their figure.
6 Days a Week:

I eat lots of:
Meat (beef, chicken, pork, salmon, cod, tuna, turkey, lamb, bacon, etc.)
Veggies (especially spinach, broccoli, asparagus, okra, cauliflower, turnips, onions, carrots... and anything else that is in season)

I eat some:
Whey protein powder
Sweet potatoes
Dried fruit

Every now and then:
Dark chocolate (> 70%)
Dark beer
Red Wine

I avoid:

On the 7th day...
I eat whatever I want.  Really.  Anything.

If you want to try this (for the purposes of losing fat), you’ll need:

Tape measure
A notepad
Time to cook
Containers to store what you’ve cooked
A lunch bag
Ice packs

On the morning of the 7th day, I workout, weigh and measure myself (chest, belly, thighs).Throughout the rest of the day, I eat whatever I want.  If I had a craving earlier in the week, I sometimes make note of it so I can indulge on the weekend.  Over the course of the weekend, I prepare my breakfast and lunches for the weekdays.  They are packed away in containers on the shelf of my fridge, waiting to be put in my lunch cooler before I leave for work each day.
A couple of days during the week I’ll workout… A couple of days during the week I’ll walk/sprint/jog. The other days, I rest.

I try to make sure I get 8 hours of sleep each night, too.

This is the protocol I came up with to get myself started... and just about anybody can tweak it to fit their life. Not everybody is able to go cold turkey and go Whole 9 for 30 days right off the bat.  Some folks can manage the 30 days just fine... but go off the deep end to compensate for their restrictions at the end of the challange.  I believe the 7th day keeps most people sane.

There are some extreme statements in there, too... things that might deserve an asterisk or footnote. But this is the answer I give when someone asks what how I got started. When they start disecting it and asking further questions, we start to smooth the rough edges and clarify some statements.

While this is how I got started, it is certainly not an exact measure of how I live/eat today. It is a less than comprehensive list of everything I eat or avoid.  And, that 7th day?... My definition of "anything" has certainly changed over the course of the past year.  Nowadays, my 7th day doesn't get much more extreme than something like an order of gluten free chicken and waffles from Company Cafe and maybe something off of the "every now and then" list.  I've come to find that the closer my consumption on the 7th day mimicked a Standard American Diet (SAD), the more hungover I felt the next day. Sound odd? Watch Dr. Lustig's YouTube video titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth to find out how sugar is processed by your body. Doesn't sound so odd to me, now.

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