Thinking About Going Primal/Paleo for the New Year: What Does That Entail?

As mentioned in my previous post, going primal/paleo is about adopting a new lifestyle that emphasizes building new habits to clean up our diet, exercise more optimally, have better sleep hygiene, and learn how to manage the stress in our lives. It focuses on adopting an ancestral health approach. 

In my previous post, I listed which primal/paleo staples were good to have on hand to start eating in a more “ancestral” way. I am now going to explain what exercising in a primal/paleo way means.

So What About Exercise?

Exercising in a primal way is approaching daily movement and exercise in a non-demanding way (the opposite of chronic cardio). It is embracing a life of daily activities that makes time for frequent breaks to stretch and move around enough. Exercising in a primal/paleo way (as explained in The New Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson) comprises of:

  • Flexibility/Mobility practices: yoga and pilates, for example, allow for greater mobility and flexibility, while strengthening muscles, including the core. Mobility exercises are beneficial to the tendons, ligaments, and fascia that support the entire musculoskeletal system.
  • Move frequently: make everyday movement (short walking breaks, evening strolls, etc.) a default habit, along with well-designed cardio workouts at 180-minus-age heart rate in addition to the flexibility/mobility practices mentioned above.
  • Schedule: Try to align your workouts (type, frequency, intensity, and duration) with your energy levels each day. Having an Oura ring (which I recently purchased) can help you track your overall readiness each morning.
  • Shoes: progressively allow some barefoot time for low-risk activities to strengthen feet and replicate natural range of motion. Opt for shoes with minimalist design (like Vibram Five Fingers, Nike Free, Merrell, Inov-8, etc.), but make sure you go from a regular 8mm shoe (to maybe a 4mm shoe) to a zero-drop shoe gradually in order to give your body enough time to adjust.
  • Sprinting: all-out efforts of 8 to 20 seconds every 7 to 10 days only if fully energized. Some easier “wind sprint” sessions for conditioning can also be included more regularly.
  • Strength training: brief, intense sessions of 10 to 30 minutes; twice a week is plenty. Go for full-body, functional exercises that help with athletic competency.
  • Stretching: minimal, full-body, functional stretches (like the Grok Hang and the resting Grok Squat) after exercising and/or simply at the end of the day are recommended too.

On a Final Note

You can also check my article on The Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid which sums up what should be at the core of an individual’s movement regimen in order to be fit in the most down-to-earth way.

Until next time!

Reference
Sisson, Mark. The New Primal Blueprint : Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2017, p. 482.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Controlling Blood Sugar

Given that I now have a high carbohydrate sensitivity (as mentioned in my first blog post), I have to constantly watch my carbohydrate intake. I am doing this very rigorously by eating a low-carb diet (almost borderline keto diet). I bought a blood glucose monitor to help me see which foods tend to raise my blood sugar too much. This is really helpful to get a clear picture of what is okay to eat. No one should have to wait to have diabetes in order to do that. When I eat something slightly sweet, right away it makes me want to eat more. So I really stay away from anything containing too much sugar at this point. Healthy fats are way more satisfying anyway!

To help you get a better handle on monitoring your blood sugar levels, there are different strategies that you can implement. Ben Greenfield highlights these in Boundless. Here are four of them:

Strength Training

Strength training helps lower blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity, which also means less of a chance to store sugar as fat. Simple bodyweight exercises can be enough, such as: push-ups, lunges, and air squats. Squats are my favorite, since they’re easy to do throughout the day whenever you have a minute or two.

Pre-breakfast Fasted Cardio

According to research, exercising in the morning in a fasted state (meaning before you eat anything) can really help to keep your blood sugar in check.

Walking Right After Having your Meal

Short walks (20-30 minutes) right after eating are highly recommended too as they have been shown to lead to lower fat concentration in the blood.

Staying Physically Active During the Day

If walking after your meal is not always possible, then standing is the next best option (as opposed to sitting) in order to lessen post-meal blood sugar spikes. You can also switch between standing and sitting every 30 minutes or so. The main thing is to keep moving throughout the day, as mentioned in my two previous posts: 5 Simple Leg (&Hip) Stretches and Why Everyday Movement is Non-Negotiable.

In Summary

To help with maintaining desired blood glucose levels, the above approaches are simple habits to take on. As always, it doesn’t have to be challenging. Just one or two small new changes at a time in the right direction. Which strategy will you implement first?

Until next time!

Reference

Greenfield, Ben. Boundless : Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body & Defy Aging. Las Vegas, Victory Belt Publishing Inc, 2020, pp. 166–68.

You can also find me on Instagram.

How Easy Staying in Shape can be

Moving and exercising enough shouldn’t feel like yet another challenging goal to put on your to-do-list. Our ancestors were doing basic functional movements (squat, crawl, walk, run, jump, climb, carry, throw, etc.) when going about their daily activities. Our lifestyle has changed tremendously over the centuries, especially in the last 100 years, but this doesn’t mean that we cannot throw in a few stretches and bodyweight exercises (for instance) as simple 1-2-minute-breaks throughout the day every day. The Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid highlights how easy staying in shape can be without going overboard on any type of fitness activity. Moving frequently, exercising your muscles and getting your heart rate up occasionally is all you have to do.

Move Frequently

The base of the Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid is comprised of three types of activities:

  • Flexibility/mobility, such as with Pilates, yoga, tai chi, gymnastics, dancing, and dynamic rolling/stretching/therapy work
  • Cardio workouts at your target heart rate (Cycle, hike, walk/jog, water activities) – Your target heart rate is a simple calculation: 180 BPM – your age
  • More general daily movement to avoid prolonged inactivity

As mentioned in my post, Why Everyday Movement is Non-Negotiable, when we have to sit for long periods of time, such as when working at a computer, we want to get up, stretch, and walk a little bit every 30 minutes or so. The same goes if we are at a standing workstation. Enough movement throughout the day is necessary for proper blood flow to be delivered to the different muscles we use, which means more oxygen and nutrients, along with “waste removal.” In short, moving throughout the day (along with other variables) ensures proper cellular health.

We also want to add a few cardio sessions done at a comfortable heart rate. No chronic cardio here. Whatever fits your schedule the best. Cycling, swimming, running, or even just walking are all good options, whatever your energy levels of the day make you feel like doing.

When it comes to working on improving flexibility and mobility, there are a plethora of options, as listed above. Yoga is my favorite, but I also do some basic stretches every day and some tai chi exercises. Having a foam roller handy is helpful too in order to massage muscles and break up knots.

Lift Heavy Things

To lift heavy things refers to strength training: brief, intense resistance exercises. It doesn’t have to be more than twice a week for 10-30 minutes at a time. In this category, you find basic bodyweight exercises like the 4 Primal Essential Movements (planks, pushups, squats, and pullups). Keeping things simple and not too demanding is a sure way to build a habit in a concise way. I like to do planks, squats, and bridges on a regular basis. You can also use free weights and resistant bands.

Sprint

Every 7 to 10 days, if you are 100% energized, you can do several 8-20 second bursts, during a cycling or running session, for instance. There is no need to do more than that. These short all-out sprints are a great addition to moving frequently and lifting heavy things on occasion for optimal primal fitness.

In Summary

The Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid highlights what should be at the core of an individual’s movement regimen in order to be fit in the most down-to-earth way. It is modeled after the ways our ancestors moved in everyday life. Simplicity is key. Moving frequently, lifting heavy things occasionally, and sprinting when you are fully rested is all you have to do. Including time for recovery, which includes adequate sleep and relaxation is mandatory. And it is also good to include play, which refers to any spontaneous outdoor physical activity like running around with your kids outside, or your dog. Being and staying fit is not a difficult goal to attain. The main thing to keep in mind is not to be in any specific position for a prolonged period of time. As they say, “The best position is the next one you will be in.”

Until next time!

Reference
Sisson, Mark. The New Primal Blueprint : Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2017, pp. 314–369.

You can also find me on Instagram.