My answers to the Primal Advice challenge from today's blog post:
1. In as few words as possible, how would you explain the Primal Blueprint to someone new to the concept?
The Primal Blueprint is a way to get the best mileage out of your genes (and your jeans), without tossing out 10,000 years of technological advance. It's a way to eat and live that works with your body's evolved expectations and natural strengths instead of fighting them tooth and nail, the way conventional health and fitness wisdom wants you to think you should.
2. What is the first thing a person should do to kick start their Primal life?
Throw out all your grains, sugar, and processed food (or donate them if you would prefer to poison homeless people instead of yourself). Straight to the curb, no excuses. You wouldn't keep cigarettes in your drawer if you were trying to quit (at least, I hope you wouldn't!). Kicking the industrial food habit is the same thing.
3. What do you think is the most important thing one should understand as they attempt to go Primal?
You need to really embrace it for it to work its best--the lifestyle, the mindset, the movement, the sleep and play as well as the food. The food is really important, sure, but don't let it become your only preoccupation. Stress, sleep deprivation, ennui--all of these things can cause problems in your life, including with health and weight control. They're all symptoms of a culture that is totally out of touch with the kind of life humans evolved to live, the kind of life that is deeply satisfying. The Primal Blueprint is a pretty good road map to mitigating and reversing all the bad effects modern society has on our well-being.
4. What was the biggest hurdle you experienced when going Primal and how did you overcome it?
Maintaining diligence and compliance once my progress slowed down. I found myself rationalizing little indulgences more and more frequently, then they stopped being so little, and pretty soon I was back to a lot of the behaviors that got me fat and metabolically damaged in the first place. (Damn you, frosted carrot cake! You are my greatest weakness...) I had to give myself a reality check, realize that I can't expect everything to be easy all the time, and start planning for success instead of just letting failure happen to me over and over. Because that's what happens when you don't take an active hand in reaching your goals: you don't. I don't know that there's any one thing I did to overcome this hurdle--it's involved working on lots of little ingrained behaviors over time--but one thing that definitely is helping is keeping a journal daily on the forums, which I just started recently. That way I feel accountable (even if no one is actually reading it), and it helps me remember how often I am slipping up. So far, it's not often, because I know if I eat something bad I will have to write it down and then everyone will know I couldn't keep my hand out of the cookie jar. How embarrassing! It's also a handy way to keep a workout log as well.
I can feel my body beginning to respond in a positive way again, so I'm really excited to see how I do the next few months.
5. If there is something you’d go back and do differently as it relates to diet, fitness and lifestyle behaviors, what would it be and why?
I would kick myself in the head before I ate all that delicious, poisonous carrot cake (among other such "treats") and derailed my progress for a while. This would involve explaining in small, easy-to-understand words to my past self that when you are trying to lose weight, you do not "deserve a treat" because you've "been really good this week". Rewards are for when you've accomplished something.
6. What do you usually eat for breakfast?
I treat breakfast like every other meal, and eat whatever I want. So if there are leftovers, I have those, and if not, I make meat and vegetables just like I would at any other meal. The way I cook usually involves: throw meat in skillet, chop vegetables and throw in the other skillet with butter or coconut oil, and voila, done. So it doesn't take long and I usually don't have trouble getting it done and eaten before work, with some leftovers to bring for lunch.
7. What is your favorite Primal recipe and how do you make it?
Hard to pick a favorite--it's really hard to go wrong with grass-fed meat, organic vegetables, Primal cooking fats, and a dash of spices/herbs. If I had to choose, probably grass-fed steak, marinated for a few hours in red wine, garlic, and shallots, with a side of baby broccoli and asparagus.
I never measure anything, but mix up the marinade a few hours ahead of time and put it in a plastic bag or other container with your steak, and leave it in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 400F, then just cut up your vegetables to the desired size and throw them on a sheet or in a baking pan with either butter or coconut oil and whatever spices you feel like (sorry, I do it differently every time so I can't be more specific). I put the steak into a small baking pan with the marinade, so it's sitting in juice, and put both pans in at the same time. Time to cook obviously depends on how well done you like your meat and how crispy you like your vegetables, but 15 minutes is a good time to check on progress. Enjoy!
Not really a recipe, I guess... that's how I cook though.
8. What is your favorite Primal workout and how do you do it?
Barbell lifts! They're hard, they make you strong like Grok! They're over and done with quickly so you can move on with your life! Just get Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe, he'll tell you how it's done.
If we're thinking a little more "caveman style" workouts, I like to do "urban territory patrol", especially when it's hot out in the afternoon. Basically I walk, jog, and sprint between shade patches in my neighborhood, pausing long enough to cool off after hard pushes before moving on again. It's fun, it's fractal, and it's totally Primal! I try to go a different route each time so I am always exploring.
9. What is your best dining-out tip?
If you live in the US, just about every non-ethnic restaurant serves either hamburgers or steak. Just order your burger on greens or with a lettuce wrap instead of a bun. I have not yet found a restaurant that would not sub some kind of vegetable for the fries. And almost everywhere, if you ask for a cup of melted butter with your food, they'll bring one right out to you, hot and delicious. Drizzle it over everything on your plate, and enjoy your sumptuous Primal feast while CWers stare at you for so gleefully tempting the gods Atheros and Clerosis. Oh, and don't forget to order your burger with bacon. You're welcome.
10. How do you manage to stay Primal when friends, family, coworkers and the rest of the world aren’t?
Sometimes I don't! But my friends aren't blind; they are all aware that I've lost 30 lbs, and most of them at least pretend to be interested when I explain how I did it. My family has heard me explain it enough times that they mostly get it and don't bother me about it anymore. And while my coworkers mostly "just don't know how I do it, not eating bread and all", they're a pretty cool bunch and are content to let me be weird. So maybe I'm lucky that I'm not surrounded by too many crazy people? I think part of it is not being ashamed or reticent to speak up for yourself when people question your choices. But you also have to remember that you really, really aren't obligated to justify yourself to every CWer that tells you that veganism is the light and the truth, if only you can get over the misery, or that all that "arterycloggingsaturatedfat" you're eating will kill you while they scarf down Fig Newtons. Just do what you do, and let them figure their own lives out.