It is so easy to get lost in the day to day grind and forget to take a step back and live. Playing, whether it be with your kids and family, with your dog or with a friend is what life’s all about.
Quick Tricks For Becoming More Primal
So what’s so great about being Primal? Our primal (pre-agricultural) ancestors did not have it easy. They were very often cold, hungry, lacking proper hygiene/shelter, and in danger of getting attacked by wild animals. Their lives were certainly not comfortable or safe compared to modern standards. On the flip side, they were the vision of physical fitness and had swoon worthy physiques. There were no obese or even overweight primal ancestors and if there were they would have been ripe for the picking by predators. Primal diet and lifestyle not only lead to a healthy exterior but interior as well – our ancestors showing no signs of disease we are now riddled by in the modern day, i.e., Diabetes, stroke, heart disease. Although life expectancy was short, typically 39, this was mainly due to environmental factors, and without them, studies have shown that our primal ancestors would have lived very long healthy lives. In fact, primal people had a longer life expectancy than humans now despite all the modern comforts we are afforded. So how do we become more like our primal ancestors? It is actually simple, and luckily we do not have to give up the comforts of a home, a hot shower, and a supermarket to do it. By making a few simple changes, you can improve your health inside and out and get back to a purer, more primal state of living.
Eat plants, animals, and fats
Arguably the most important aspect of being primally aligned is what you eat. The majority of your diet should be comprised of vegetables (colorful, organic, seasonal), protein (meat, fish, fowl, eggs) and healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil, nuts). You should try to consume a variety of all of the above to obtain the most nutritional benefits and avoid boredom. Eating primally is never about depriving yourself. You should aim to eat when you are hungry, not on a set schedule and eat till you are satisfied.
Avoid poisonous things
And by poisonous things I mean sugary foods, sugary beverages and grains (wheat, corn, rice, pasta, cooking grains and breakfast cereals) – wave them goodbye. Sugar is poison. Every time you ingest carbs in the form of sugar and grains, you spike your insulin level. Elevated insulin levels cause fat storage, inflammation, compromised digestion, hormonal dysfunction, weakened immune function and elevated risk of heart disease and cancer. Not to mention they have little to no nutritional value. Get them out of your diet, and fast! Your body deserves better.
Let me start by saying working out is wonderful. Unfortunately, if you workout for an hour a day and then spend the rest of your day sitting, it just isn’t enough. In order to become primal, your focus should be on moving frequently at a low-intensity level. I know it is hard for many of us to comprehend “low-intensity levels, ” but it could be as simple as going for a walk, cleaning your house, playing with your children, taking a yoga or pilates class – anything that gets your body moving. Low-intensity activities promote enhanced fat metabolism, better cardiovascular function, stress management, general health and longevity and primal living.
Get plenty of sleep
Ahhhhh, sleep. If you don’t love it, learn to. Sleep is essential to your health. Your circadian rhythm or “internal body clock” which dictates wakefulness and restfulness, is naturally triggered by light and darkness. As it begins to get dark out, your body begins to release melatonin, the sleep hormone, which helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. As the sun rises and it begins to get light out, melatonin production drops off, and your body releases serotonin and cortisol which help you wake up and feel refreshed. When your circadian rhythm is off, sleep becomes compromised. Most of us spend our evenings sitting on the couch watching tv or surfing the web as we unwind from a long day. What we don’t realize is that by flooding ourselves with artificial and digital light, we are suppressing our melatonin production and negatively affecting our sleep. As a good alternative, try reading a book, conversing, meditating or going for a light stroll before bed to help you unwind.When your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it leads to elevated stress levels, diminished energy, sugar cravings and compromised fat metabolism. So get your zzz’s and reap the benefits!
Make it short, INTENSE, and sweet
Let’s go back to exercise, remember when I said working out is wonderful? Well, it is…but chronic exercise is NOT. Excessive exercise is detrimental to your health. It causes elevated cortisol in your bloodstream and chronic inflammation. Instead of beating your body up for hours you should opt for short, intense bursts of exercise. Your best choice, and most primally aligned exercise, is to lift heavy weights for short periods and to sprint occasionally. Sprinting is as primal as it gets – think running away from scary animals that want to eat you. The primal lifestyle blueprint says working out intensely three times a week for 30 minutes is all you need to obtain health benefits. For some of you this might be great news and for others (me included) it would be impossible to work out that infrequently. A good place to start is by giving yourself at least two rest days. During those days you should still follow step #3 and continue to move frequently.
Get vitamin D
Sun worshipers rejoice! Turns out that lying in the sun is actually good for you. We spend so much time indoors that Vitamin D deficiency has become a widespread issue – leading to cardiovascular illness, cognitive impairment, renal difficulties, and even increase your risk of cancer. It is important to get proper levels of vitamin D because it regulates growth in almost every cell of your body. Sun exposure is your best and most effective way to get it – better than diet and supplementation combined. Your goal should be to expose the largest amount of skin to the sun for about half the amount of time it would take to get a sunburn. If you are worried about skin cancer or it runs in your family, cover areas that are more susceptible, such as the face, neck, and hands, and only expose yourself for the minimum time necessary.
Last but not least, my favorite, play! As a culture, and especially in New York, we tend to live to work not work to live. We spend hours a day sitting behind a computer, or in whatever work environment you may be in, then run home to do a million household jobs, take care of children, make dinner, pay bills, etc. It is so easy to get lost in the day to day grind and forget to take a step back and live. Playing, whether it be with your kids and family, with your dog or with a friend is what life’s all about. Play should be spontaneous and fun. If you are still confused by what play really is, take a second to observe your children or your pet. Children and pets are a great example of primal living and primal fun. They go hard, running, playing, laughing, jumping and then they rest equally as hard. No one has to tell them to play – they just innately do it when it feels right. So find your fun and make it happen (and no, drinking wine doesn’t count).
About the Author
Jourdan Brown is a Certified Group Exercise Instructor. She also manages the Front Desk at Fitness Incentive.