Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
4 Feb

How to Incorporate the Primal Blueprint into a Busy Family and Work Life

Fit FatherInstead of Monday’s regular Dear Mark post, today I have the pleasure of bringing you a fantastic guest article from Mark’s Daily Apple reader Paul Attia.

At the age of 24, I was a two-sport varsity athlete while in law school; I thought I was busy. A very “short” decade later, I was a trial lawyer with an intense job as a criminal prosecutor, I was married, and I had three kids under the age of three; then I understood what being busy actually meant. In the intervening period, however, I needed to learn much and adapt vastly, my own lifestyle goals and patterns in order to continue to achieve some goals that I had set for myself. During that same period, I was introduced to the Primal Blueprint (via my brother Peter, whom many of you know).

My goals are very similar, no doubt, to the goals shared by many of you. Namely, I want to be the best spouse I can be; the best father possible; the consummate professional in my job; and live a very full and healthy lifestyle. Goals, as many of you know, are tantamount to looking at a road map and selecting a destination; goals tell you where you want to go. But selecting and following the best route to your chosen destination is what will determine whether you arrive or not.  I am writing today to let you know how incorporating the PB into my life is helping me reach that destination; I believe that my experiences will be very similar to yours and that today’s article will equip some of you with ways in which you can incorporate the PB into your busy family and work life.

To that end, and in keeping with my profession as a trial lawyer, I shall break my writing down into three separate but related parts: Fit Father vs. Fat Father; Primal Parenting; and Executive Workouts.

Fit Father vs. Fat Father

As you can deduce from the above, my transition into fatherhood was a rapid one. On my 30th birthday, I was unmarried with no children. By the age of 34, I was married and we had three kids. My wife and I have very similar backgrounds. She was a national champion in track and field, and went on to have a very successful university career in track, as a two-time conference champion. We are both very intense in the pursuit of our passions. So, once we were married, we decided to take the same approach to our family. We wanted a large family and we wanted to build one at a fast pace.

When I became a father, I recognized early on that I had to make a choice as to whether or not I wanted to be a Fit Father or a Fat Father. I also knew that to “not make a choice” was indeed to make a choice; and that would be a choice for the latter, i.e. one has to pro-actively and actively choose to be a Fit Father.

It is important to be aware of two critical factors that occur when a man becomes a father. One, the amount of “tasks” in your daily life increases at an exponential rate; simultaneously, the amount of time you have to complete said tasks decreases at an exponential rate! It is at this intersection that many become fat fathers as opposed to fit fathers. Most other dads that I talk to will share similar stories: They were young and healthy, keeping fit by either exercising (jogging, biking, etc.) on a consistent basis, or playing a sport often (Ultimate Frisbee, baske-ball, etc.), until they had a kid. Soon, times for morning or evening jogs were gone; taking off to the gym was no longer an option; and evening games of Ultimate could not be attended. Soon, the desire to “get back into it” also decreased.

This touches on another important principle at play: the longer one has gone without being physically active, the more difficult it is to return.

So, how do we, as parents of young children (I am writing this to fathers, but many of the principles apply equally to mothers), change this, and ensure that we can be Fit Fathers (and Mothers)?

Let’s take a look at First Principles.

One, choose, in your mind, that it is a goal of yours. If it is not even set as an objective, you’ve really got no chance. Two, decide to make subtle changes, consistently, over a long period of time. Yes, that is right, you heard me correctly: Subtle changes; Consistently; Over a Long Period of Time. The PB is about changing your lifestyle in such a way that you can maintain it… It is Not about implementing methods that you can only maintain for a short period of time. That is an important distinction. Three, decide what those changes will be and implement them. They may be related to the type of exercise, location of it, or duration. They may be related to how you eat, what and how much. They may be related to your sleeping habits, your social choices, or decisions about your attitude. They may include all of the above.

I’ll give you a few examples that I used in my life. One, I made a choice that I wanted to be a Fit Father (my reasons for this choice shall be explained below). Two, I determined that I needed to make some changes in my life; I needed to change the way I viewed exercise; and that I needed to change the way I ate. As a varsity athlete, my idea of a workout included a trip to the gym and hours spent there. Once I became a father, opportunities to take off to the gym for hours on end, disappeared. Therefore, I had to change my idea as to what a workout was. Once I realized that a workout could take shape in a number of different ways, in different locations, with little to no equipment, I quickly realized that I could in fact be active daily. And that was my first goal: Do something physically active each day. Sometimes that might be a trip to the gym. Sometimes it might be a mountain bike ride for an hour. Sometimes it might be a 10-20 minute “Executive Workout” (see more below). Some days it’s my commute to work and then a few sets of pullups and pushups once I am there. And some days, it might just be a hike in the woods with my kids, as we run around and explore. Either way, I am physically active every day.

I also changed the way I ate. I realized that as a man in his mid-thirties, I could not eat the way I ate in my mid-teens or even mid-twenties for that matter. I implemented the PB into my life and realized that eating this way was almost like I was “cheating” because it was so easy. I eat as often as I want and as much as I want. I just choose to eat from a list of foods that are ideal; I choose to never eat from a list of foods that are poison (read: sugar); and I sometimes eat from a list of foods that are okay. Basically, my diet is very simple: I eat lots of fruit, tons of vegetables; some good meat; and zero wheat. Sugar is a poison. I try not to eat poison.

I implemented the above changes subtly, but consistently, and have now been doing them for a long period of time. The results have been very rewarding. I am healthier, fitter, stronger and more energetic at this stage than I was before.

Fit Father

Here is one other major advantage – and in fact, the most important one: I am happier. And as result, I am a better father.

You see, being a Fit Father vs. a Fat Father appears on its face to really be a decision that is all about you as a father. But it is not. It is really a decision about what is best for your kids. That may sound paradoxical, but it is not. Let me explain.

When you’re fit, you’re happy; when you’re happy, you enjoy your life more; when you enjoy your life more, you enjoy your kids more. It is really very simple.

When I come back from a mountain bike ride in the woods, or a workout out in the park (or at the gym, for that matter), I am feeling physically refreshed, but I am also feeling better about myself mentally. I feel good that I did something productive for myself (as selfish as that might sound) and I can now throw myself fully into time with my kids uninhibited; as opposed to skipping out on exercise in order to be with the kids. That option sounds lovely, but in the long term it renders one unhappy and possibly resenting your family. That is dangerous in the long term.

Of course there are other benefits of being a Fit Father: You have more energy. Playing with your kids is a joy, not a physically tiresome task. In fact, you love it, and often initiate it. They reciprocate in a fantastic fashion and great memories and bonding ensue. You can incorporate physically active family adventures and outings, whether it be a hike, or just playing in the backyard. Being Fit opens doors.

Lastly, when I became a father, a good friend and mentor told me, “do not worry that your kids are not listening to you, but be very worried that your kids are watching you.”

Kids look to us as examples.  If you want your kids to be physically active people, who love life, soak up every ounce of it, and pursue it passionately, then don’t tell them to do that, just do that and they’ll probably follow your lead!

Primal Parenting: Implementing the Principles of the PB with a Young Family

Children are inherently primal in so many respects. We can, in fact, learn a great deal from observing them. By nature kids love to move. They are perpetually interested in running, playing, chasing, falling, jumping. You name it. So, let’s encourage that to the max. Set up your life and your home in such a way that play is allowed and encouraged. Put your TV in a room that is far away from the main hangout area; build forts in your living room, not just your backyard; play tag with your kids; take them on hikes and nature walks. Feed them great foods and teach them at a young age how great these foods really are. They will follow our leads. When they see us enjoying fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, they’ll follow our lead. Pragmatically, set up your life in such a way that good, healthy food, is readily available.

My days are busy, but they begin very early with our kids and playtime is generally what we’re doing from the get-go. The kids begin their day, running around the living room, chasing dad and playing a sport of sort – even if it is still before 6 am. They love it and always want more. We keep the house full of good snacks – cashews, almonds, cut veggies, fruits and berries are regular snacks for our kids – and “treats” like ice cream are easily made by crushing up a frozen banana with some cocoa powder.

Weekend plans usually involve a hike in the park, climbing “mountains” (i.e. any hill or staircase we can find), and heading to a farmers market for some good snacks and lunch.

Each and every time we implement any of the above mentioned practices, the kids seem to love it more and more; showing me just how “primal” we really are.

Primal “Executive” Workouts: How to Incorporate PB Workouts into a Very Busy Schedule

Like so many of you, my days seem to be becoming busier and busier. “When will my schedule settle down?,” I often ask myself. Well, I think I’ve stopped waiting for an answer. Between the three kids under three and my days in court, the “windows of time” for me to go to the gym only seem to be getting smaller. My experience is not unique, I know.

To solve this problem, we need to become creative in our implementation of a PB lifestyle, in spite of our busy and hectic schedules.

I began drafting “Executive Workouts” when I first starting working as a lawyer, nearly a decade ago, as my schedule was becoming increasingly busy  I called them “Executive” in that they are Efficient and Effective – and because they are most useful to people with busy lives.

After reading the PB, I began to implement Primal components into my Executive Workouts, and now enjoy them that much more.

Let’s go back to first principles – and let’s be pragmatic. What task(s) are you doing every day? The answer is likely commuting to work, taking a shower, grabbing a meal… etc. So, how can we incorporate exercise and physical activity into those daily tasks? When I began to answer these questions, the answers led me to make some subtle, but very important changes in my life. My commute is now a form of activity. I walk, bike, run or even skate to work (I live near a body of water that freezes in the winter).

Fit Father

I bought a pullup bar for the doorway of my office at work and of my office at home. I set a goal of doing X amount pullups in the morning before my shower, and a certain amount of pullups once I arrived at working in the morning. That number began in the single digits; within a few months, it was into triple digits.

Fit Father

I bought a resistance band and kept one at home and one at the office; same thing with a set of dumbbells; and I apply the same principles as above. And let’s not forget the good ol’ fashioned pushups, body weight squats, etc. I have now set up a series of “Executive” Workouts that I can do virtually anywhere, with little or even no equipment, and I work these exercises into my daily life, whether it be 5 minutes before I jump in the shower or 10 minutes first thing in the morning, doesn’t really matter. The point is, that I have worked physical activity into my daily life in a way that is easy and simple to implement.

My current schedule (read: deal with my wife), is that I take off to the gym very early on Tuesday and Thursday mornings (and often on Saturday mornings). On the other days of the week, however, my mornings are usually spent running around with my kids, playing, making food, changing diapers, “negotiating with them” over what they’re going to wear that day… the list goes on. On those days, my “physical activity” includes my running around and playing with my kids, my commute to work, and I’ll add in a Primal “Executive” Workout, such as the following:

  • 2 minutes of Core Pushups*
  • 4 minutes of Body Weight Squats
  • 2 minutes of Pullups, completing a total of 50 in that time period
  • 2 minutes of Core Pushups

Total: 10 minutes

*(Core Pushups involve doing 1 push every 5 seconds for the duration of the set, e.g. here I’d do 1 pushup every 5 seconds for a 2 minutes straight, thus essentially doing a “plank” in between pushups).

Fit Father

Here are some other practical examples of ways in which I have incorporated workouts in my every day life, that may work for you as well:

  • I may bike or run to work, stopping at a nearby hill to run sprints, intervals of timed pushups, or pullups from tree branches.
  • When working on a long and intense trial at work that occupies days, mornings, and nights, I’ll run the couple of miles to work and back, setting my watch timer to beep every minute, reminding me to stop and do a set of pushups. By the time I’ve commuted to and from work, I’ve run several miles and done hundreds of pushups, but really have not taken very much time out of my day.
  • As mentioned above, I have a pullup bar, dumbbells and a set of resistance bands in my home office and my office at work, so I can never have an excuse to not get a workout in.
    • Commit to doing a certain number of pullups every day on the way in or way out;
    • Set your smart phone timer to go off once per hour as cue to get up from your desk and to do a set of pullups and pushups
    • Take 20 minutes over lunch and do a workout on the equipment right around you
  • At home, I’ve set up a large, kids play area near an exercise area for myself, so that I can also exercise at home, with my kids right there.
  • In warmer months, I’ll head to the park with my kids and set up a circuit wherein I may run from the monkey bars (doing pullups) to a bench (for steps ups) back to the sand box (for sprints). My kids think it is hilarious to see their dad get tired and they turn it into a game for them too.
  • In the winter, rather than driving places, I’ll pull my kids in a sled. They enjoy it much more and it turns into great exercise for me (pulling 2-3 kids in a sled, through a few feet of snow has the tendency to do that).
Fit Father

You’ll be amazed at how fantastic you feel after a quick, short, and intense workout like that. You, of course, all know that from your experiences to date, with the Primal Blueprint.

I hope and trust that my experiences with the PB will assist and encourage many of you to find creative and practical ways to incorporate the PB into your busy family and work lives as you all aim to be Fit Fathers and Mothers, Primal Parents and members of the Executive Team.

All the best,

Paul Attia

Fit Father vs. Fat Father Summary

  • Two things happen when you become a parent: your amount of tasks goes way up and the amount of time you have goes way down. It is at this intersection that many people falter.
  • Choose to be a Fit Parent.
  • Make subtle changes, consistently, over a long period of time.
  • Incorporate physical activity into everyday life, recognizing that your life as a parent is very busy, and likely will not slow down, so you have to adapt.
  • Create some easy ways to make practical changes:
    • Turn your commute into a form of exercise (walk, run, or bike to work, stopping at a hill for sprints, or pushups on the way).
    • Throw a pullup bar, set of dumbbells, or a resistance band in your home or work office and set some fun, daily or weekly goals for yourself.
    • Learn to do Executive Workouts (see main article).
    • Incorporate your kids into exercise (circuits in the park, bike rides, runs, hikes, sledding in the winter).
  • Set up easy ways to eat as per the Primal Blueprint, even when on-the-go:
    • Put a small fridge in your office stocked with fruit and vegetables.
    • Keep a stash of snacks (nuts, seeds, etc.) nearby.
    • Find some spots near your office and home that serve up good primal foods, so that you have readily available options when you eat out.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Great post. love Fit Dad vs Fat Dad.. has a certain ring to it. If you write a book in the future I think you have our title there.. a la “rich dad poor dad”

    One question I have though is… do you have a shower at work? Or do you just spray on some cologne, dry off the sweat, and change into your suit?

    My problem is that after my exercise… my body is sweating for a good 2 hours afterwards… which is not optimal in a professional environment.

    bjjcaveman wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • how about baby-wipes 😉

      us girls have an even better excuse to NOT be active during work hours–our hair could get messed up (after all the time and hair-spray put into it) but in reality even really long hair can be put into a neat bun in seconds so like Paul said, you have to make the choice (not excuses)to be active.

      With that said I am curious also, about what Paul does to freshen up during work.

      Anna wrote on February 4th, 2013
      • That’s funny you post this. I used to be a news reporter, but I rode my bike everywhere. So, I’d show up to news conferences kind of sweaty, with wind-blown hair, and the nice little helmet marks on my head. I always brought a towel, change of shoes and in the summer sometimes a change of shirt and washcloth to hit whatever bathroom I could find for a quick wipe down of the sweat. City officials that I saw regularly recognized pretty quick that I was always riding my bike to meetings/press conferences and I ended up influencing a few of them to start doing the same. I don’t think they would have realized I was riding my bike if it wasn’t for the helmet marks, not so perfect hair and sweat. Own it and you’ll be amazed at how much it really doesn’t matter if you look perfect or not. As long as you’re not stinky, people are actually pretty inspired. :-)

        Casey wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thanks for the great feedback. I’m glad you love the Title of Fit Father vs. Father and Fit Dad vs. Fat Dad. To answer you’re question, yes, fortunately, I do have a shower at work.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • I had the SAME. QUESTION.

      I would love to ride my bike to work, and out of vanity have not tackled that. Helmet hair doesn’t flatter my face shape. I could invest in some baby wipes and headbands, and I guess I could get away with not having to blow dry my hair as much? Hmmm… actually that sounds awesome. This article was a good reality check. I’m always whining to myself “I don’t have tiiiiime to do all of this”. If YOU can have time for it, I (unmarried and childless) definitely can. Thanks for an awesome article!

      Susie wrote on February 4th, 2013
      • Hi Susie. I am glad that you enjoyed the article. All the best in Fit Fitness into your schedule.

        PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  2. I don’t have any kiddos yet but it’s all great advice for those that do. I definitely plan on being a fit mom as opposed to a fat mom. Thanks for the post (originally typed “pot” – yikes).

    Dani wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Hi Dani, glad you enjoyed. Your attitude of planning for things in advance is a great one.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • “Yikes” for sure.
      Once I read the words, “He was raised on the streets of India where people spoke bluntly.”
      I sleepily read “spoke bluntly” as “smoked blunts”.
      I don’t want to cut off too much information from the outside world before my consciousness makes it’s construct. That’s a recipe for schizophrenic symptoms.
      These past few days I’ve been quite responsible. Not as fun, but I feel “better” about it.

      Animanarchy wrote on February 13th, 2013
  3. I like this article. I am starting to work on applying to MBA school and I realized that when I graduate I will likely be working 10 to 12 hour days with a long commute on top of it. Between a demanding work schedule and eventually a family I’m not sure how I will work in exercising but this gives me hope. The fact that a busy lawyer with a tough schedule can fit it in makes me a little more optimistic.

    Wayne Atwell wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Hi Wayne, your attitude is great. You’re right that you will be very busy and 10-12 hour work days can get the better of you – if you let them. As I mentioned in the article, you have to be pro-active in your approach. Choosing not to choose, is in fact to make a choice. Best of luck with the MBA applicatons.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  4. Some very good advice here!

    Violet wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • I am glad you enjoyed it.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  5. I have two boys under 5 and all they want to do is wrestle, climb and play. Before PB I would crash after work and feel like a terrible father because I couldn’t engage in their play, I was too tired. Now, while i never tire them out I can at least keep up! Great article!

    MattyT wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Very happy to hear that. It is amazing the energy they have – and the reciprical affect of our engaging with them.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  6. Do you ever find that MDA brings out an article at exactly the right time in your life?! Its true serendipity…

    Its clearly not just about being better, faster, stronger, but also Smarter! Well done Paul!

    Patrice wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Very happy to hear that Patrice. I am glad the article was able connect with you at just the right time.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • I agree! Loved the article, today is a day of change!

      Anthony wrote on February 5th, 2013
  7. Great post, Paul. I started later (50) and only have one. Even still it has been an adjustment. My wife and I have consuming jobs. She needs her daily run or ski. I have taken the path of minimum effective dose of exercise, which equates to walking or running to and from work (easy, less than a mile) and brief intense body weight exercises at home. You are inspiring me to add a pull up bar at the office.

    Rand wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Hi Rand, sounds like you’re finding/creating your own routine. Yes, I am big fan of turning my commute into a workout; and b/w exercises as well. The home and office p/u bar has also been a big asset. The stand alone type is useful, and I also have a doorway one that I can easily move around depending on where I need it.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  8. You could call this program “DadFit™”, but in any case, you have a book here that’s waiting to be written

    Moshen wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thanks very much. I am glad to hear you’ll read the book on this topic of Fit Father vs. Fat Father.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  9. This article came at just the right time for me. Thank you for the great suggestions, inspiration, and reminder that it IS possible. Where there’s a will, there’s a way…

    Wren wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Hi Wren, you’re more than welcome. I am glad you were inspired and I trust that you’ll be able to implement some of the practical suggestions into your daily life.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  10. Hey, this is spot on for me too . . . I’m right at the beginning of rebooting my Primal habits, and I was feeling like a slacker because I’m only working on two habits at the moment. It’s good to hear (and see) that each change adds up over time.

    Thanks for all the detail!

    Weatherwax wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • You’re quite welcome. Yes, I certainly learned from the PB, that making these subtle and consistent adjustments can really move the needle over the long haul, particularly when done in several different areas. You’re more than welcome for all the detail!

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  11. I check marksdailyapple every morning and this post was very intriguing. I do not have a family or kids as of yet and i found this article to still be very inspirational for anyone with a busy life. I would love to hear more specifics about your meals(what exactly you eat each meal). Out of curiosity, when you go to the gym on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings what are you focusing on with those workouts?

    Addy Kotwal wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • I am glad that you found the article inspirational. And yes, the principles are applicable to anyone with a busy schedule (whether busy from family and work or otherwise). Re your specific quetions, my workout routine very often depends on the time or year, what I may be training for, and how I feel. I incorporate many of the same principles I’ve described above in my Executive Workout section. I am focussing on overhall health, efficiency and fun. My workouts usually involve intervals of sorts (running, biking, other), timed lifts, and circuits.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
      • Hi, I really enjoyed your inspiring article, I’m 57 and have twin grandchildren nearly aged two. I became primal 6 months ago and have the energy to play with the twins as you do. We love to run and chase and also set up obstacle courses. I love the way you are bringing up your children, my very best wishes.

        ali nettle wrote on February 5th, 2013
  12. Great article! I don’t have kids, but I do have a non-primal husband. He needs to read this. Replace “father” with “husband” and it’s every bit as applicable.

    Sarah wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Hi Sarah, so glad you liked the article and I hope it continues to be applicable to your life and family.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  13. You, sir, are an inspiration.

    Wayne Atwell – once you find your job, put your first year’s savings towards getting a place within 10 miles. Just bike then. I used to bike ~8 miles as a fat body with my piddly cripple boy legs, so 10 miles should be a ‘cench.

    (I say ~10 miles because if you’re fit, it shouldn’t take long at all even on rainy days so you don’t have to worry about a long chunk of your day spent commuting.)


    M Everbserg II wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Glad to hear that you are inspired – and yes the commute to work is indeed a great place to incorporate daily exercise.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  14. This is a very timely article for me, as I am currently pregnant with our first, and my boyfriend struggles with sticking to primal eating. Hopefully if I show this to him, it might give him a little motivation!

    Cherice wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Best of luck to you both with your upcoming addition – it will be an amazing experience. And I am happy to hear that this article may help you out, along the way.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  15. People on the outside can look at Paul and say, “Oh, well he’s an attorney and so it’s an easy life for him and his family.” It’s sorta like when people look at black athletes and say they’e blessed with natural ability which is a code word for not having to work hard at it. It doesn’t matter if you’re an attorney or a trash collector – young kids don’t care what their dad is when he walks back home through the door but rather whether or not he’s in a good mood and can he play with them or listen to them. This article is timely in a day when we are constantly barraged with bad news via the media- symptoms of a society coming apart at the seams. We can talk about more laws, more money thrown at the problems, wiser politicians, more vigilant police, etc. but the number one issue, in my opinion, that will go further in helping our society and especially young people is better fathers. I’m not dismissing or putting the importance of mothers second but the plain numbers are out there – too many fathers are negligent in the upbringing of their kids. I include myself in that category after looking back the last several years and blaming my poor health habits on the stress created while raising teenagers. Thank you Paul and Mark for reminding me that good health affects more than just me personally. Providing a roof and food are givens for being a parent. Incorporating a healthy lifestyle makes being the best father and husband possible. Paul, I hope your kids can revisit this website and your post some day when they’re older and realize how great their dad is. Heck, they probably already know that.

    Jeff F. wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thank you very much for your kind words Jeff. You’ve touched upon some very important issues. I am very glad that you enjoyed the article.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  16. Great article, thank you! I’m a full-time working mom with a demanding job and schedule. PB has given me a perfect plan for fitness and life! I also turn playground time into workout time which my son loves.

    Also, for those of us getting in workouts during the work day, baby wipes are your friend! We don’t have showers here but a baby wipe is refreshing when you’re running to another meeting….

    mars wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • I’m guessing most baby wipes are toxic.
      Granted if you’re going to a meeting it makes sense to look and smell fresh but there can be better, cheaper ways.
      I limit my use of all chemicals for cleaning (soap, detergents, shampoo etc) and often don’t use any at all. Au natural. A good rinse accomplishes as much as synthetic emulsifiers and who knows what.
      When I’m camping I often just clean my hands by rubbing them together with a handfull of snow or leaves, or washing them in a river. Sometimes I actually use dirt (it makes sense in certain circumstances).
      I blow my nose with leaves and snow too.
      I never get sick these days. :)
      If I ever get a house (kind of doubt it) I’m going to use vinegar as a disenfectant if I really need one.

      Animanarchy wrote on February 15th, 2013
  17. Very inspiring. The world needs more great dads, so thanks for being a role model.

    Rebekka wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thank you very much Rebekka for your very kind words. I am very glad to see that you were inspired by the article.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  18. I love this post. I am struggling with this very thing right now, mostly with guilt around doing things for myself that take me away from my family (i.e. mountain biking). But I think you are right, when I actually do take the time for myself I feel so much better and my attitude towards my family improves. I really need to think more about this approach.

    Eric wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • I am glad that you loved the article, Eric. Yes, the balance can be difficult to find between the competing interests. That is why I have been so keen on seeing the “30, 000 Foot View” namely what is best in the long run?

      I am often reminded of the instructions provided at the beginning of a flight, that we are to put our oxygen masks on first. It’s a paradoxal statement, seemingly. Of course, our kids and our family come before exercise, but one need not be to the exclusion of others.

      Accordingly, I aim to “Put my oxygen mask on” daily, knowing that if I don’t have any O2, those certainly won’t”

      That is the principle. The next challenge is the implication. That is where the creativity and ability to adapt comes in.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  19. Some good ideas in here, but am I the only one that thinks your cortisone levels are off the charts. Maybe you can get away with this schedule at your whipper-snapper age. Hope you don’t get burned out. Love the pullup bar nearby…

    Nocona wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thanks Nocona. Glad that you liked the ideas. Yes, the high energy output is a result of, amongst other things, the lifestyle. Hopefully, if I keep it up, I won’t burn out. Glad you liked the ideas.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  20. Great article. It even applies to those of us without children. Many of us have busy schedules and experience difficulty finding time for our partner or family.

    James wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Hi James, I am glad you enjoyed the article – and am glad to hear that the principles will be useful to you in your busy life.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  21. Awesome article, Paul! I like the way you’ve incorporated Primal Life into your personal and professional life.

    I certainly give me some food for though as I am inherently lazy and could benefit from some daily physical activity.

    Griffin wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thanks Griffin. Just think about some subtle changes, incorporated into your already daily activities. Best of luck with it.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  22. Great post Paul. Funny after i read this i incorporated some of what you said into my PFB workout. I got on the treadmill and after warm up cranked it up to full speed and sprinted. usually i then walk for a minute after running a minute and this time after i sprinted i got in 25 pushups and then started the whole circuit over again.

    jwiljtown wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Awesome. So glad you were able to incorporate some of the Executive Workout principles into play already. One of my favourite Executive Workouts is:

      1 min run at Interval Pace
      30 sec of core push up
      30 sec of lifting

      x 10-20 reps.


      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  23. PBF is what i meant. yikes happy monday

    jwiljtown wrote on February 4th, 2013
  24. Thanks Paul for a brilliant post. Nice one!!
    Really practical advice and tips.
    I wholeheartedly agree with your gradual subtle change approach. Too often we (the collective we, not MDA readers of course) look for quick fixes – think of the whole diet industry schmozzle – when you need a lifestyle change, not a 2 week diet.
    In my own journey, I have gradual tweaked my lifestyle and it took 5-6 years for me to lose 35 kilos.
    I also agree that you have to find a way to easily fit fitness into your everyday schedule to make the change, whether choosing a gym right near your train station (which you walk past everyday) or exercising as your daily commute. I have a nice 60 minute walk home from work each day (past my gym!) which gives me an opportunity to move my body, de-stress and listen to podcasts.

    Madeleine wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thanks Medeleine. So glad that you enjoyed the article so much. You’re absolutely right about the subtle changes, being implemented consistently over the long haul. All the best.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  25. Great inspiration– although I have long since seen my kids leave the nest. I incorporated healthy play–basketball, football, and hiking with my three boys as we were growing up together!

    Wish I had been primal then(although I was close) but it’s never too late. Now my challenge is trying to run or walk at lunch hour and find a pl;ace to hose off and get back at my stand up desk within an hour!

    Pastor Dave wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thank you Dave. Glad that you were inspired. Your daily routine sounds great.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  26. Thanks for that wonderful in-depth post. As a father of two young kids your story is a nice inspiration

    Tobi wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • You’re welcome Tobi. I am glad the article inspired you. As I am sure that you are busy with your two young kids, I hope the practical suggestions can be of some assistance to you. All the best.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  27. ….and loves to hear himself talk.

    Handle wrote on February 4th, 2013
  28. This is great. As a similar-age dad with similar scheduling difficulties, I could relate and appreciate it. Thanks, Paul!

    James wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • You’re welcome James. I am glad that you enjoyed it.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  29. Fantastic! I take my dog and 18-month-old to the park most every day. Big green space. I hoist the little guy on my shoulder and run sprints. The dog gets excited and runs alongside, playfully jumping up to nip at us. We’re all laughing, even me through the exhaustion of a weighted sprint. Is it really exercise when it’s so much fun? Oh, and for a good oblique workout, try tossing a small child, in track-and-field hammer throw style, onto a pile of pillows on the couch (gently, of course!).

    Steve Gardner wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thanks Steve. Glad that you enjoyed the article.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • And farmer’s carry. It can be as simple as carrying your groceries. I got some decent oblique development just from carrying my stuff around in my backpack by the handle or a cloth shopping bag.. did that very often though, so it was a long-term conditioning thing.

      Animanarchy wrote on February 15th, 2013
  30. Nicely written. I admire you for your dedication to your little tribe. What a wonderful example to follow! Keep up the good work, and thank you for sharing.

    C DeFrancesco wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thank you for your kind words. I’m blessed to have the tribe. Glad you enjoyed the article.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  31. When I was a girl back in the 1970s my dad would take me for a bike ride as soon as I was old enough to ride a bike (I learned at age 5 and had a 3-speed bike by age 7 or so). We’d ride about a 7 mile round trip to a shopping center for ice cream (yeah, I know) or free batteries at Radio Shack. My dad also took me hiking and backpacking all through my childhood and I was never allowed to use motorized transportation to get to school. I still walk, hike and bicycle to this day.

    Diane wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • What a great story. I hope my kids will be saying the same things, down the road.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  32. These are great ideas for the common work life. Would love to get some advice for those of us that are out of the norm. I work in transportation and my route has me sitting behind a wheel for 7 hours a day. My driving commute to start work is 30 minutes from home and clock in is at 6 AM. I get a 2 hour lunch break that I am feeling overwhelmed trying to fit in house time, exercise time and cooking time. Because my wake up time starts so early after work and after errand time I am exhausted.Help.I really want to make this work.

    Theresa wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Hi Theresa. Thanks for writing. That sounds like a very tough day. It’s tough to give suggestions without more intel. But what are your options during that 2 hour break during the day? Can you go for a walk? A jog? Is there time for a 10 minute body-weight workout? What about committing to a few minutes of exercise early in the morning before you start the commute? I know its early, but at least its out of the way. Also, during the 7 hours of transportation, are you able to take breaks? I know that when I go on long drives I’ll take a resistance band with me in the car and when I stop during the drive, I’ll do a quick five minute workout, which really helps counter lethargy during such a drive.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • My dad used to have quite a long commute (over an hour) and used a grip-squeezer on the way to build some forearm strength.

      Animanarchy wrote on February 15th, 2013
  33. How did you find the time to write this article? Good work!

    Patrick wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thanks Patrick. Glad you enjoyed the article.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  34. Any ideas for getting exercise with kids when it’s cold, like well below freezing, but no snow?

    christina wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Hi Christina. Happy to help. There may be lots of options, depending on the age of your kids and your surroundings. I’ll very often take my kids out for a ‘skate’ on outdoor rinks, by bundling them up and putting them in our running stroller. I’m able to go for a multiple mile skate (along a very safe and very frozen body of water) while they just enjoy the fast pace and usually a few snacks while they’re bundled in their warm cocoon. Depending on how cold it is, walking hills is also a great way to exercise with them. Indoors, the options are endless: informally, you can set up hilarious games with your kids where ‘mom’ has to do a jump or a push up every time a certain word is certain (during a kids song or otherwise); you can set up an obstacle course that has you chasing the kids and involved in some running and jumping. More formally, I’ve done planks for time, with each of the kids trying to sit on my back, or pull-ups with the kids trying to hang on to me. If you have a bike trainer or a treadmill at home, again depending on the age of your kids, you can either exercise during their nap time, or set up a large play area for them, near your exercise equipment and do a quick 15-20 minute workout with them nearby. Happy to provide more specific suggestions with more info. All the best.

      PA wrote on February 4th, 2013
  35. Great article! I’m curious, what do your gym days look like?

    Chris D wrote on February 4th, 2013
  36. I loved this post. Since having twins and my twins turning into toddlers, I have found it increasingly difficult to fit in exercise. My now 2 year old twins will not sit in the pram for more than 5 minutes, which has put on end to any long walks. You have inspired me to try to devise work outs which incorporate my kids.
    Another thing that I have found that helps is that my husband and I have committed to a personal trainer – even just half an hour each a week. While it is expensive at least it ensures that we both get a good lifting session in a week, and we cannot make excuses not to go while we are paying for a trainer

    Vicki wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Hi Vicki – thanks for your comments. I am glad to hear that you loved the article. 2 year old twins is nothing short of a chaotic schedule, but it sounds like you and your husband are both keen on fitting fitness into your life. If the kids are no longer game to sit in th pram, try the park workout, wherein they are running around, while you do a short circuit. Or try the same principle at home (run to the kitchen and do five push-ups; jog to living room and do 20 b/w squats; walk upstairs and do 30 s of a plank, etc, the kids can watch in wonder or try to chase you. All the best.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  37. Paul,

    This is one of the best articles I’ve read on how to incorporate good health and fitness habits into an extremely busy family life. Currently (at 29), I’m at the point you were when you were 30: unmarried with no kids. I have plenty of time to cook healthy and exercise, but I always wonder about the changes I’d have to make when I have a family to keep up my healthy lifestyle.

    The Primal Blueprint is obviously a great foundation but living it day in and day out amongst the pressures and conventions of Western society is a challenge. Keep up the great work. You’re no doubt a huge inspiration and role model to your family!


    Alykhan wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Alykhan: Very glad to hear that you enjoyed the article so much. Yes, the stage of your life that you’re in affords you much time for yourself, in comparison to the stage that lays ahead. But that being said, you can use this time wisely to learn more and more ways to be efficient and wise with your time vis-a-via fitness and health. That way, when your schedule changes in the future, you’ll already have well developed plans and habits. All the best.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  38. Fantastic article Paul! I am having my husband read this tonight. I am curious if you know the brand of pull-up bar you have posted in the picture? I have been looking for one just like that for some time and haven’t been able to find a sturdy one (as yours appears to be in the pic). Thanks for the inspiration!

    Elisa wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Yes, please tell us where the pull up bar can be found.

      Ezestreets wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Hi Elisa. I am very happy to hear that you enjoyed the article so much. The pull-up bar pictured was purchased at a fitness store, selling gym equipment. It took a little while to find and it was expensive, but certainly worth it. The other pull-up bar that I use frequently, was the type that be placed in any doorway without being fixed. I think I bought that for around $30 or so. Monkey bars, branches, and roof beams = are all free. Enjoy.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  39. As a guy who is about to turn 60, it is very inspirational to think we have a generation of future leaders like this who can accomplish so much while living a healthy, holistic life.

    George wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • Thank you for your kind words George. Much appreciated.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013

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