How Running Changed My Weeks

I have never been a runner…

The truth is, before recently I hated running.

The hard knocks of every footstep, the hard uphill effort and my breathing was always hard and forced.

I never really understood the pull to running that so many people seemed to have. Some people couldn’t go through a day without getting a run in. To me there was no worse thought than to get up in the morning, put on some shoes and go for a run. I could get behind weight training and swimming, but never running. There was always some mental block against it as both a sport and a way to get fit and lose weight.

I think that this all changed after I began to run without shoes on. 

Throughout all the years that I so strongly stood against the idea of myself running, the only real thing I needed to change was not the shoes I was running in, but rather the shoes I wasn’t running in. I think that had I not made that decision to go out and buy myself a pair of Vibram Five Finger’s I’d still be against running. I never bought the Five Fingers to actually get into running mind you, I bought them because they appealed to the minimalist inside of me. They are simple, work and are to this day the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. Having said that, I now own quite a few more pairs of the things, and in fact I’m writing this very article with my feet clad in Komodosports. My poor Komodo’s have been on 3 day hikes, Warrior Race obstacle courses and have been worn almost every day for two years. They are my favourite shoes next to my Five Finger Classics.

vibram-fivefinger-classic-favourite
My Classics are probably my favourites…

It’s safe to say that I am a Vibram Five Finger fan, haha.

On to running and how it has changed me

Running is hard. It is mental, physical and frustrating. The only time I feel like I’m really going at a healthy pace is when I’m running at around 80% of my maximum speed. I LOVE to sprint. There is something so simply primal and athletic about letting the reins get a little slack in them and charging forward at maximum effort.

I like to run a 5km route every Saturday. Some may say that isn’t far, and it really isn’t. I can cover 5kms on my mountain bike no problem, and with little effort. Running though really takes it out of me. I sometimes wonder if I have the wrong sort of build for running, but after having run on consecutive Saturdays now for quite a few months I am beginning to believe that we really are all born to run.

The main reason I think that is while running and observing my fellow running comrades I have noticed just how easily we can move and maintain a constant speed. Heads high, arms relaxed, we seemingly fall into each step over and over with little effort.

This brings me to another point that I’d like to make about running. I think that running is an art form. There is a specific rhythm a runner needs to move effectively while using the least amount of effort as possible. I know that when I slow down after around the 3 km mark that it is because I have fatigued and can no longer maintain my running form.  Form, I believe, is everything in running. From the research I have done into what makes a runner an efficient one, it appears as though a high cadence rhythm where concentrating on lifting your foot off the ground rather than driving it into the ground is the most efficient way to move both quickly and effortlessly.

This method of running is called pose running. 

 

This is how I run, and I have been told that I look very natural and relaxed when I move. Try it out!

Probably the best running shoe you'll every use! :)
Probably the best running shoe you’ll every use! 🙂

On to the main reason I love running

Running has now become a weekly “fix”. I love the post-run glow. I love the simplicity that is running. I love being outdoors and feeling the wind rush over me. I love feeling like I’m free and that nothing else matters on that Saturday morning other than finishing that run. I love running barefoot.

My favorite part though is just how good I feel for the rest of the day.

So why not give running a go yourself?

Grok: Who was he?

Who is/was Grok?

The simple answer is that he is, or rather was us. He used to wake up in the morning and have a good stretch while greeting the morning sun. He used to rile up his family and go for a morning run to gather food and water and he used to go on hunts with his friends to get some meat for dinner.

Do you see the similarities?

There are some, definitely, but there are also quite a few differences. Grok never had to worry about money, but he did have to worry about food sources, sustainability and health. We can wake up in the morning and greet the morning sun, hug our family members and even go on food gathering adventures, but we certainly don’t have to fight for our food or spend hours chasing down animals to eat. Additionally, Grok probably never encountered the convenience of gathering beef. Cows wouldn’t exactly be hard to hunt.

We don’t even have to do the hard work when we get our foods. Grok would have had to do everything, from harvesting to storage and distribution. Obviously everything would have been on a much smaller scale, but the point is that there was no convenience to be heard of. If Grok was hungry, Grok would have had to have gone out and fed himself.

Grok would have had to have run, jump, sprint and do pull ups like it was nothing in order to survive. He definitely didn’t have to sit in front of computers all day and worry about making money to buy his food, but he would have to evade dangerous animals and find places to shelter from storms. He’d have had to make tools from things he found around so that he could make spears to kill animals, control fire and ensure that he could keep his people happy.

Grok would also have to worry about getting sick as way back before the times of agriculture and medicine getting ill would almost certainly mean certain death. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about much of what Grok had to when he was alive.

Having said that however, Grok would have been in near perfect health. He had evolved with his diet, he had been physically active his entire life and he was stronger than most of us will ever be today. He could sprint, jump, climb and lift. He was nimble and athletic. He wouldn’t have to worry about cholesterol issues, diabetes or excess body fat. Everything worked like a well oiled machine.

How you can be more like Grok

This is a great video on how to be more Grok in your life…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1B45Dw9NKR8

The issue most modern humans have today is that our lifestyles have moved so far away from what our bodies are. We are social creatures who like to touch, run, jump and laugh. We try to mitigate emotional and mental stress where possible but seem to lose the fight all too often. Our bodies love physical stress but we leave them starved and wonder why they give out on us one day.

We are built to feed when we need to, not when we want to. Our bodies love good nutrition and hate bad nutrition, yet as a result of big industry and social conditioning we are robbed of automatic good health.

We need to move more, eat more high quality food and ditch the toxic stuff as soon as we can.

Try and walk barefoot more, eat more raw, natural foods and learn to think like Grok had to. What is my next meal going to be? Where is it going to come from? How am I going to get it?

Try and live in the moment a little more.

Here’s a great article on Grok by Mark Sisson

 

Simple Psychology To Keep Yourself Honest

How do you maintain your paleo momentum?

Let’s not beat around the bush here, paleo is not the easiest diet to stick to. I won’t “cave” in to all the anti-paleo naysayers who claim that it is an unsustainable way of eating because I’ve disproved them in my own experience on the diet (er, way of life?).

It isn’t that paleo is difficult, nor is it that the foods we love to eat are hard to come by (for the most part, anyway), its that it requires effort. 

Perhaps that’s what it all comes down to at the end of the day. If you are going to succeed with a paleo lifestyle, you have to give it some stick. You have to change the depress the clutch pedal, shift gears and step on the gas. There aren’t any paleo fast food restaurants (that I know of), it’s all gourmet goodness. 

Why wouldn’t you want to eat well everyday, with just a little effort? In 6 months time after you have converted to a fat burning grade A example of the human species, could you honestly say you wanted  to not eat according to a paleo way of life?

I could near guarantee not.

I believe that finding what works for your body is that powerful. It isn’t that you “know what to eat to lose weight”, or that you find that exercising while playing is more effective then just throwing some weights around in the gym. It’s about embodying something that you know is right. Something that works for everyone in much the same way. Your playground is a place where diabetes is banished and insidious fat gain is a by gone.

Think about that next time you are in the chocolate aisle at your local supermarket. Which brings me to the crux of this article.

How do you maintain your paleo momentum in the face of temptation?

Well firstly I think it’s important for you to understand that the foods you feel so tempted by really isn’t food. It’s poison. 

Even so, what’s one bite of a doughnut? Oh, wait… that one bite led to five more and now you’re eyeballing the next one in the box you just bought. Again, most of what isn’t paleo simply isn’t real food. 

So how do you use simple psychological tricks to make powerful, resonating and long lasting decisions on demand and in the moment?

Guilt, that’s how…

paleo-guilt

Now we both know that just saying that doesn’t really put a positive idea in the mind. Guilt is a negative word, it implies bad things, such as crime and deceit. 

Put the brakes on there and slow down. That’s not the direction I’m going in at all.

I’d like you to take a moment and reframe guilt. Try to think of it as an empowering tool that you call upon in your moment of need. Guilt, to the rescue…

Use guilt as a projector. Think of it like a pair of glasses you put on when you make decisions. Each food item you view through these glasses presents you with a timeline of how eating that food affects your life. How is that for a polariser, right?

Think about it, applying this technique while casually ogling some freshly baked, fluffy doughnuts produces a sharp and clear image of fat gain and long term, insulin issues…

However, glancing over a prime cut of steak or some delicious, fresh vegetables shows a wonderfully peaceful life of health and longevity.

Guilt allows you to make the right choices pre-emptively. It’s almost as though you are empathising with your future, overweight self and realising just how simple and easy it is to avoid ending up being unable to join your kid’s on their first bike ride. Powerful stuff. 

Yes, yes…

I know some of you may think that this is a little dramatic seeing as though we really are only talking about food. 

Well, we aren’t. We are talking about health, living long and living strong. Being healthy for our kids. Being able to see the world for the next 50 years. It’s about enjoying your human machine.

So get out there, feel guilty, and then make the right decision when it comes to what you feed yourselves and your family.

paleo-guilty
It’s surprisingly easy to keep this box empty…

Keep well!

Andrew

My Yoga Experience: Continued

In continuation of my previous post (give it a read so that we’re on the same page! :D) on my first experience with yoga, this post will be about how my view of yoga has changed after some more classes.

I think it would be best for me to mention the different types of yoga that I’ve done over the past week or so.

Flow Yoga or Vinyasa Yoga

I began with a class of flow yoga, which, to my limited understanding (at the moment) is a yoga discipline which aims at moving constantly from one pose to the next. Its correct name is Vinyasa Yoga which refers to the “alignment of movement and breath”, which is a method which turns static yoga postures into a dynamic movement; flow. 

This is quite a physically demanding style I think, as I found certain parts of my body trembling at the mercy of the instructors. As with all the yoga “styles” that I’ve tried there is a mental serenity you reach at some point during every class. Frequently I’ve found myself without thought where the only thing I’m “thinking” about is what my body is doing. I’ve found that with flow yoga there is little to no rest period between each posture, and so your body’s areas of weakness are magnified. Personally this is something that I welcome as it highlights where you need work and also makes you realise just how physically demanding yoga can be.

yoga-pigeon-pose

Something I enjoy in particular about flow is that there is a real sense of progress as you tie one posture into the next until you are repeating a fluid yet highly controlled sequence of movements which you begin to understand better and better the more you practice.

Bikram Yoga

paleo-diet-bikram-choudhury
Bikram Choudhury

Perhaps the most fashionable yoga in the world today, Bikram yoga is a yoga “system” developed by Bikram Choudhury which incorporates 26 hatha yoga postures performed in a hot room. Typically temperatures are of 105 degrees fahrenheit and up (40 degrees celcius), which I’ll have you know is pretty tough. If you have wondered what it would feel like to sweat out of every pore in your body then I urge you to take a Bikram yoga class. I was pretty fascinated at just how much fluid was being purged from my body, and equally amazed at how little water I felt I needed to drink during the class. After the class however I rehydrated quite aggressively, haha.

A little more about Bikram

Bikram Choudhury began learning yoga at a very young age. And by young, I mean barely able to walk; 3 years old. 

I don’t know about you but at 3 years old I don’t think I could run very well, never mind have the dexterity to control any yoga posture. Bikram’s studies continued and in his teens he had won the National Yoga Championship three times consecutively.

Perhaps the biggest “pull” of Bikram yoga is its claimed healing benefits. Bikram himself suffered a crippling injury during a weightlifting exercise which doctors told him would mean he’d never walk again. He claims that through yoga he recovered completely in 6 months. Bikram yoga is performed in a hot room because it more closely simulates the climates found in India.

He moved to the United States in the 1970’s and setup yoga studios in California and Hawaii. He began training students and ultimately was awarded a copyright for the 26 poses which constitute Bikram yoga. The theory for this copyright is same as that which allows choreographic sequences to be copyrighted.

Should you try yoga?

Yes.

I think that one of the greatest things about yoga is that it can be performed by anyone. The object is never to push beyond one’s limits, so there is a challenge for everyone no matter their physical strength or agility. I’ve found that in the short time I’ve been practising yoga I have become more flexible and there is a definite change in the strength of my core muscles. Small increases and changes, but progressive and understandable. It is easy to see how people become addicted to yoga, and how the progression of your development in the sport is a linear one where improvements in technique, strength and overall experience can be measured monthly, if not weekly.

So give it a shot!

Andrew

My First Yoga Experience: Learning About Yoga

This week I had my first yoga experience…

I decided (after some arm twisting I might add) to attend a yoga class with my girlfriend. She is an absolute yoga addict and attends classes multiple times per week.

The class that focused around the flow discipline, which, to my limited understanding is a yoga style, if you will, where each pose flows into the next, creating a seamless one and a half hour movement. I had some ideas of what it would mean to be moving in ways I wouldn’t normally through exercise or otherwise for that long, without a break.

The class happened to occur on the evening of a new moon, which meant that we were to focus on non-standing poses. This meant lots of close to the ground core work, and it was tough. Some poses appear very simple on the surface and when expressed by the instructor, but in actuality are incredibly tough to hold for more than a few breaths, never-mind express convincingly. I found that some of the poses which focused on maintaining core heavy poses worked me the hardest. I like to look at this as an indication of areas I need to get stronger and more supple though, so it’s all good…

What I learned at the time

Immediately as the class started I felt as though there was a good sense of calm amongst everyone in the class. I wasn’t the only first timer there and there were some experienced people who had obviously been practising yoga for quite some time.

I found that I really had to focus on my breathing, which is very important in yoga, and the better my breathing was the better the poses worked for me. Some poses seemed to stretch out my nerves, leaving my toes tingling while others seemed to test my ability to maintain a single position for (what seemed like) long periods of time.

What seemed to really resonate with me

I found that my thoughts and worries became muted as the class went on, and at the end of the class I was totally relaxed, even though I had just been physically active for over an hour. When we reached the final pose, savasana, I was ready to fall asleep.

paleo-yoga-savasna
Savasana or the corpse pose

 

The next “thing” I found resonated well with me was that the energy in the class was incredibly positive. It was as though everyone in the room was on the same level and “knew” one another. There is a great deal of respect that yoga seems to command, and it feels like a very mature form of exercise. From just a single class I felt as though I had gotten closer to my body and its current limitations. Even though I had struggled through many of the poses, I had attempted each one with 100% effort, and the resonant stiffness I feel today as I type this article reminds me that the yoga journey is a long one.

Every extra centimetre you are able to stretch is a big achievement in yoga, and the goal as it seems to me is not to become the best at performing yoga poses, but to become in touch with your body and how it feels on the day, how it felt before, and how you want it to feel in the future. The physical exertion aspect to everything seems to come as part of the package, but it isn’t the true value of practising yoga. I think that spiritual release you feel after completing a class is what really brings people back to the studio.

It is as though someone has given you permission to relax, forget about the stress of living and focus on your mind and body while strengthening both.

Takeaways…

I think that yoga is an awesome way to spend time with yourself. You could definitely practice poses at home but it is the careful, calibrated guidance of an instructor that will keep you focused and help you prevent injury. The studio was very quiet, with only the unique sound of Ujjayi breath filling the room. The outward expression of yoga’s breathing helps to ensure that (for the most part) everyone is in sync in the studio. It is a very liberating and bonding experience at the same time, if not with other people, with yourself. 

Yoga also perhaps unintentionally encourages you to take a holistic approach to the body. Everything you do, every day, will affect how your body peroforms when attempting yoga poses. Your diet, how you sit, how you sleep will all be affected (and even repaired) by the focus of yoga.

So give it a go. It was a very valuable experience for me and I’m seriously considering making it a routine part of my life.

Keep well,

Namaste,

Andrew.

Paleo Diet Meal Plans

I’d like to announce that I am now building meal plans for you!

If you have ever wanted to know exactly what to eat when following the paleo diet then you should defintely check out my meal plan options. There are currently two meal plan products that I have put together after getting requests from readers to do so.

Please take a moment and checkout this page that outlines exactly what you’ll be getting if you decide to signup.

paleo-meal-plan
paleo-meal-plan-more-info

 

How To Increase Testosterone Naturally

What is required to naturally increase your testosterone?

Testosterone is a naturally occurring, vital hormone occurring in mammals. In humans, it is responsible for maintaining levels of sex drive, muscle hypertrophy and the maintenance of bone strength and density. Testosterone is produced for the most part in the testicles of men and the ovaries of women. It is to a lesser degree produced in the adrenal glands.

Men produce around ten times the amount women do, but women are more sensitive to the effects it has on the body.

So how do I increase the amount of testosterone available to my body naturally?

how_to_increase_your_testosterone_naturally
We want more of this guy in our bodies…

 

Focus on controlling your cortisol levels

Cortisol is a hormone which is in some ways the opposite of testosterone. It is released when the body is stressed, sleep deprivation and overtraining (chronic cardio). It is important to not string yourself too tight, take it easy, relax when you can. Cortisol reduces free testosterone levels in the body. 

Expose yourself to the sun or supplement for vitamin D

It is imperative that you get enough vitamin D everyday, either by natural means or through supplementation. The body requires vitamin d for many different functions, and you guessed it, helps with the increase of testosterone in men. This article covers this relationship quite well.

So get outside in the sun tomorrow morning and enjoy that cup of coffee with your shirt off.

Lift heavy objects, primal style

Squats and exercises like dead lifts are your friends. They both promote testosterone production and so you should either start lifting heavy things or add one of these workouts to your exercise program.

I like to do squats and move objects around which require maximum muscle engagement. There is also some evidence that resting for 90 seconds between workouts can increase testosterone production the most. A 60 second break, by comparison, will increase growth hormone release the most.

hypertrophy
Lifting heavy weights boosts testosterone

Try some sprinting on the lawn

Sprinting is a miraculous form of exercise. I have yet to survive a solid, high effort sprinting session without feeling pretty tired afterwards. All you need, and read closely, is a six second burst of sprinting. That is probably the easiest way of increasing your testosterone count.

Try to sprint once a week. Perhaps schedule a short sprinting session on your off day from weight training. Works for me!

Be sure to eat clean, high quality animal products only

Traditionally fed (grain fed) animals produce poor quality fat and dairy. If you are eating animal products (which you should be) then you should try and eat only those sourced from grass fed animals. We want to avoid dioxins as much as possible (especially for men, because they interfere with our reproductive system).

And on that note, you should be eating lots of saturated and monounsaturated fat…

Simply put, low-fat diets matched with the typical, grain filled “fiber” diets demote the production of testosterone. Conversely, high fat diets show an increase in testosterone production. Try to make sure that the fat you eat is of the highest available quality. Again, grass fed is best. Try and get a table spoon of coconut oil or olive oil down the gullet everyday as well.

Cut out sugar/carbohydrates

Foods which require the body to release insulin in order to control elevated blood sugar levels negatively affect our bodies testosterone production. Keep in mind that most people who don’t eat according the a paleo style eating plan probably eat a fair amount of carbohydrates in the form of grains. Grains, specifically processed grains like pasta and bread convert into glucose very quickly once eaten.

Supplement for zinc

Zinc occurs naturally shellfish, but if you can’t eat the stuff or have an allergy then you should take zinc supplements. This is more of a cover your bases step, but will still result in an increase in testosterone.

Encourage A Paleo Ecosystem

How do you get the whole family to participate in the magic that is paleo?

If you’ve been a follower of the paleo diet or in fact have tried any other way of eating for any length of time, you have more than likely come across some sort of friction between your family and yourself when it comes to dietary choices.

Most of the time this friction will occur where your choices in food is out of the ordinary. No bread, pasta or sugar in your food will probably get some sort of response from most people who eat according to a western style diet. Some people will worry about you not getting enough carbohydrates, or that your fat intake is going to destroy your waistline, or that your cholesterol is going to turn your heart nuclear.

None of these worries are founded in proper wisdom, and whether you like it or not it will become your responsibility to educate those you care about on the troubles of eating high carbohydrate diets based heavily in grains.

Don’t worry too much though, you don’t have to take the responsibility as seriously as you may imagine. It is more a guiding hand sort of responsibility than ruling with an iron fist. At the end of the day, it is each person’s responsibility to make the right decisions when it comes to what you eat, how you exercise and how you view and embrace health.

primal_family_cooking

Making a game of food buying

Why not take the kids to the store and make a game of the actual food buying process?

This time is a good place to teach your children, no matter the age, what healthy food looks, smells and feels like. Let them touch the fruits and vegetables on display and decide which ones are their favourites. Avoid the aisles that are psychologically designed to feed into what a child is exposed to. Giant, happy, friendly cartoon characters punting sugary, basically poisonous breakfast cereals which are void of any nutritional value. These foods are designed to get a child to eat them, get addicted to them, and ultimately contribute to that child’s understanding of what makes up basic nutrition. 

This is wrong to me. I think that if there were no breakfast cereals available people would instantly be healthier

Especially children.

A simple way of getting the little people to buy into the food buying game is to allow them some freedom to learn what they like. Allow them to choose one food that will go towards making dinner, for example. Try and keep to the healthy areas, and encourage them to make better decisions. Allow them to choose whatever they like, but if they make an obviously bad choice, say, bread rolls smothered in cheese, guide their focus to something more nutritious. Sweet potatoes perhaps.

Feed their senses

This step is not only limited to the little members of your family, but the old too. Farmers markets are much more vibrant and colourful than a supermarket, and give a more “real” representation of what good food actually is. Wether its hand selecting vegetables or asking for specific cuts of meat, the experience is engaging and attractive.

Make it a mission

Outlining goals for a shopping trip keeps kids engaged and lets them take responsibility for what they eat, and consequently you eat too. Allow your kids to choose foods based on requirements you need. “Two green vegetables and some meat please!”

Let them go out and find what they think would work well together and make dinner with what they bring back. It is a fun, simple and very rewarding experience  not to mention it totally changes the shopping experience for the little guys.

But don’t be militaristic

Remember that all of this is about having fun, spending time together and bonding. The beauty here is that you are instilling in your kids vital good nutrition making skills from an early age. It’s all about future proofing their health. Why not start on day one by associating pleasure with healthy foods.

Let everyone in the family contribute to dinner in simple ways. Don’t assign overly complicated tasks to people when they obviously aren’t interested in doing them. Fortunately, being paleo means not many peeling of vegetable jobs will be passed around like a hot potato. Keep the mood light and make it a family event rather than a chore.

This level of participation may only work for preparation, as certain dishes need only require one chef.

Get primal

Let everyone eat with their hands. This obviously works best if the food is actually hand friendly. Ribs, broccoli and chicken wings are great primal eating foods that carry with them a simple primal eating experience. Broccoli snaps in your mouth and the eating of ribs requires the use of some of your oldest teeth, the canines. If kids are involved who aren’t ready for this sort of eating, pre-prepare the food for their consumption and sit with them when you both eat the same food with your hands. There is no reason why the little ones can’t eat what the big ones are eating.

To me this is hugely important. I’d love to experiment with removing a level of “difference” between how kids and adults eat and see what sort of dynamic is would create between a family unit.

primal_family_life

 

It’s all about the fun

Foraging, preparing and eating foods in as real a way as possible will help ingrain some really great food principles in young ones, but I’ve found that even older people are ready to reexplore the food and nutrition parts of their lives. We are all human, and we all want to experience new and old things everyday.

Preparing food in the ways mentioned above is also a great way to help people understand just what goes into a tasty, healthy dish. What does fat do to a meal?  How does it change the flavour of a dish? What does it do to the texture of a meal?

Which fats are healthy?

This sort of learning experience happens naturally when the meals are simple and easy to see. What I mean is that with many western diet dishes such as pasta based meals the foods incorporated all sort of blend into one “food”. With a primal approach to the selection, preparation and cooking of foods, most foods retain their original form. This makes it clear that each food has its place and can open the door for explaining the nutritional differences between meat and vegetables for example.

Keep well,

Andrew The Caveman

 

How To Start Your Day

Waking up…

I don’t know about you, but since I’ve changed my life to a more paleo focused one I’ve had less trouble getting up in the morning. I’m often up at 6AM on the weekends to go mountain biking, and getting up during the week early is no problem either. However, sometimes we forget that the time after awakening from a restful slumber is prime time for some simple activities that will kick start your day. Morning rituals can help set the tone for the day and can even help ease the murkiness of a bad nights rest.

Expose Yourself


primal_morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not talking about giving your neighbours a photo opportunity, but sleeping with windows open and allowing for natural light to wake you up will set your biological clock right every morning. Think about how your sleeping patterns change when you holiday somewhere away from cities, where natural light is more dominant than our artificial versions. I find that if there is natural light available I wake up much easier and earlier too.

I’m also a huge fan of allowing fresh air to wash over me while I sleep. I’ve woken up too many times in a sealed room where I’ve been the only method of air circulation for hours. Fresh air also helps to maintain temperatures if its hot. The only time this won’t work is when it’s snowing outside of course!

Quench Your Thirst

primal_hydration

Notice how I don’t mention “hydrate” or “make sure you drink x amount of water”. There really is no golden rule of  hydration. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day is pretty unnecessary. Try to judge how thirsty you are by well, how thirsty you are! I’ve noticed that one or two glasses as I wake up is a good start to the day. I probably average around 4-5 glasses of water a day in the summer, and less in the winter months. Some days I am more thirsty than others, and if I’m going to be exercising the following morning I’ll try increase my hydration efforts before I go to bed. This seems to make the biggest difference when the following day is a really hot one.

I’d recommend waking up and drinking a glass of water to quench your thirst, thereafter decide whether or not you want that good old cup of coffee.

Get Some Outdoor Time

primal_outdoors

If you can, wake up earlier and go outside for a while before starting the nitty-gritty of the day. Greet the day by exposing yourself to some glorious rays of sunshine and your day will improve drastically. I’ve started implementing this simple step in my day and I’ve felt really great as a result. Also, the sun is your best source of vitamin D, so why not get the highest quality available? You’ll need around 15 minutes of solid exposure to the sun with as much skin exposed as possible to really benefit from this.

If you love your morning coffee, why not enjoy it outside?

Get The Heart Going

primal_pushup

Waking up to some exercise, no matter what it is will be beneficial in more ways than you could imagine. A simple, single set of pushups will get the heart pumping and wake you up, focus you and provide a great sense of accomplishment. Why not start your day with a bang?

Ideally, a slower workout would be better, unless you enjoy training for strength or sprinting in the morning. Having said that though, it’s the movement that counts. Your body just wants to move. If you have a hard time finding the motivation or the time to do workouts in the evenings then perhaps doing them after you wake up in the mornings is a real option for you.

Some mornings I’ll begin what I think is going to be a simple pushup routine, and end up doing an entire, full body workout. Remember, with crossfit principles a workout doesn’t need to be long at all to be effective, and more often than not its the short intense workouts that provide more benefit to the body.

Contemplate and Uncoil

primal_meditation

Meditation before tackling a particularly stressful day can do wonders for stress management and productivity. Now, don’t think that because I dropped the meditation bomb I’m talking about an incense filled, cross legged ritual pre-work. I like to just take a moment to think about what I’m thinking about. A classic way or focusing your thoughts and bringing yourself to yourself is to simply think about what you are going to think about next. I challenge you to actually give me an answer to that step. I’ve found that when I chase my thoughts in that way they dissipate and I feel an instant, whole body peace upon me.

This is a great way to get into focusing on what your mind is actually occupied with, and who knows, this simple process of waking up, contemplating and understanding your day and your minds reaction to it could produce some massively rewarding calm in your life.

Additionally, you could incorporate some tools like journalling or writing out your thoughts in an effort to externalise-to-internalise whatever is going on in your mind.

Feast

primal_feast

In my life food is pretty important. I’d actually say that it’s one of the things I’m most excited about, most of the time. I love food. I love nourishing my body.

Take the time to make an extra awesome paleo breakfast full of protein, fats and vegetables and you’ll have some great reward for the rest of the day. Why should you only look forward to a couple of meals a day when all of them can be as awesome as one another?

If you need some inspiration, try these out and see how they work for you. I love them.

Focus

primal_focus

Set the tune of the day by allowing the mind to drift amongst its to-do-list. Allow some drifting time to notice what you are really stressed about, and then hone in your ability to fix or complete these tasks. Over time, you’ll become so in tune with what you are really stressing about that you’ll have the power to turn on and off focus at will.

Get Together

primal_family

If you live with family, enjoy breakfast and some chit chat before everyone goes their separate ways and conquers the day. Don’t live with family, or anyone for that matter? No sweat, meet up with a friend for a cup of coffee or call someone. It’s about managing the stress of the morning while still allowing yourself and others to be human with one another. Underneath all of the stress and life-missions everyone has we are all still social creatures looking for love.

Keep well,

Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance Of Finding A Good Paleo Diet Guide

Lately I’ve encountered quite a bit of questioning and in some cases, interrogation when it comes to the paleo diet and why I follow it so proudly. Most of the time people are intrigued by what it means to live free from grains, low quality food and sugar. I find it interesting how so many people focus on what it the paleo diet excludes when it comes to food choices, rather than asking about what the diet actually does for a person.

Often, enlightening people to the benefits of the paleo diet results in them becoming genuinely interested and eager to learn. Others seem to view good health filled with easy weight control, no illness and solid muscle gains as something utopian and out of reach.

This is obviously as far from the truth as possible. A simple Google will result in many, many paleo success stories. Some people have overcome serious illness and diseases and others have lost tons of excess body weight. The beuty of the paleo diet and the primal movement is that the course that these people have followed is available to all. You don’t have to be a special case to benefit from the paleo diet. Even underweight, unhealthy hardcore vegans have recovered their health by following the simple core concepts of the paleo diet.

paleo diet guide
We should all be aiming to learn and teach at the same time

The importance of having a good paleo diet guide at hand…

There are many guides out there on how to eat according to the paleo diet. Each one might be “sold” to you at a different angle, although they will probably be quite similar. While the fundamentals of paleo are easy for anyone to grasp if taught correctly, the nitty-gritty information that you need to really make the changes stick require something more. I’ve found that the more I speak to people about paleo, the more I realise that once you’ve crossed over into this magical, fat-filled world of health and massive energy you forget just how far behind (that sounds really harsh) some people are in their dietary evolution.

For most newbies to the diet, I find that they are still shocked at the fact that a diet exists where there is no allowance for grains of any kind. I’ve ranted on before about how grains are so, excuse me, ingrained into our society. It seems that even the doctors are prescribing people with conditions instigated by poor nutrition bread and legumes as go to meal bases. Not cool, society, not cool at all.

It is for this reason that I actually started writing How To Paleo. I wanted to be able to give people unfamiliar with the paleo diet who already had some sense of “health” a  great guide on how to correctly apply paleo principles to their lives. If you are going to offer advice to people, it should be of a high quality and should be usable by other people. 

If you’ve got friends who are paleo and are loving it and have had some good success, I encourage you to pick their brains about what makes the diet so great for them. What about the paleo lifestyle is it that gets them so committed to health and taking hold of the condition of their bodies. It is these sorts of people who will teach you more about what it is like to live a primal existence than anyone else will, online or otherwise.

Finding great resources online is also very important. I’ve yet to see some explicite paleo focused books in book stores, but then again, I’m rarely actually in book stores in the first place. My point is that you are probably going to find some of the best information on the Internet, and there are some really great sources available. Paleohacks.com is one of my favourites, as well as the cavemanforum and of course Mark Sisson’s very own forum.

Each of those three resources has taught me an immense amount about paleo and learning from others. Some people talk about paleo on a real holistic level, where others will go in to the most minute details imaginable.

Everyone who has experience in something can teach others about it.

Please excuse the perhaps ranty nature of this post, but I’ve been thinking about it’s topic for quite some time and just in the past few days I’ve had multiple conversations where my words had a resounding “Ah, that’s interesting” moment with people.

Keep paleo, and pass on your awesome knowledge to others!

Andrew.