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. I am also a lawyer with three young kids, who thankfully lead an active sporty lifestyle (soccer, tennis, gymnastics, martial arts, swimming….). it has taken me much longer to work out what you have spelt out above, but I am doing my best to implement it. After a year of doing very little, due to time commitments, I felt blah! Start riding to work, doing martial arts (with, and inspired by, my 10 year old son) and just generally moving more – I feel great, and sleep even better. Your article gives me inspiration to keep going down this path. I really struggled with giving up lots of exercise (triathlons) a decade ago, and am only really finding my balance now, in an approach similar to this. I recommend it to all young (and not so young) dads.

    WPJ wrote on February 4th, 2013
    • WPJ: Thanks for the reply. It sounds like you’re well on your way. I am happy that this article is an inspiration for you to continue down that path. We of course, both know, how worth it it is.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  2. This made me chuckle a little. I am a Mom of 3 kids. Now they are in their early 20’s. I can hear you saying all the things I did when I was younger when my kids were all little together. When they are little you think it is hard work, working, washing, ironing, cleaning, cooking, gardening and getting food in the house, doing all the everyday things in life. But as the little ones get bigger, the food they consume becomes more, the plates, dishes and crockery they use becomes bigger, the clothes you wash and iron become bigger and the shopping you get, gets heavier. Soon you end up looking after 3 gown adults and then there home work needs your help and their hobbies need seeing to and before you know it where is the time you so much need for yourself? I love and cherish my children and I also made the choice to do as you are doing, but it is a long long road to get there and the time you have for yourself gets smaller and smaller. My kids have turned out a success and I would not have done it any other way. But it is only now that I can have time to spend on myself. But I wish you all the luck in the world with your journey as it is going to be the biggest workout of your life.

    Charmaine wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Amen!!! Not to discourage or invalidate what the young parent is going through (we have been there) but the road in some ways gets easier but in other ways becomes more demanding and time consuming. When they are young YOU dictate what they do and how much time/energy you are able to invest into it. Once Jr.High, High School and those early college years hit (for those that attend local colleges) your time is dictated more often by outside sources out of your control. Can’t exactly tell the teacher ‘sorry my child will not be participating in the huge science project’ or the community service that they have to do as a graduation requirement, though they don’t dive yet so you then have to schedule it in to your time as well. Enjoy these “busy” moments these young years are precious.

      Theresa wrote on February 5th, 2013
  3. Great post, thanks for sharing your helpful tips.

    Erica wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • You’re quite welcome Erica.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  4. could NOT have been better timing… i’ve really been feeling the “itch” and this article relates directly to my excuses for not doing what i need to be doing… thanks!

    Bubba wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • I am very happy to hear that this article arrived at such a good time for you.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  5. Inspirational, and so many practical tips… As a toddler Mummy, a homemaker and aspiring business woman, I love your emphasis on reviewing what you actually do on a daily basis, and getting creative with that to fit in daily exercise. An excellent way to approach fitness.

    Also, so true that I’ve already made the decision to be a fat Mummy if I haven’t consciously decided to be a fit Mummy… Much to lull over, and make some plans about – then ACTION! :-)

    royalpriestess wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Glad to hear that you found the article inspirational to you. With your schedule, you certainly have your hands full, but you’re picking up all the key points, namely that you have to choose to be pro-active about this and that you can indeed find a way to fit fitness and health into your life. Moreover, you owe it to your kids and to yourself. Best of luck with it. Let me know if you have questions.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  6. Paul,
    Awesome post and very informative. I had a question on what you eat. You mentioned that your eat “lots” of fruit and “tons” of meat, but only “some” meat. I find myself eating “tons” of meat while eating primal. Do you limit your meat intake? Also, do you take any supplements?


    John wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Correction …I meant to say that in your post you stated that you eat “tons” of vegetables.

      John wrote on February 5th, 2013
      • Hi John, not to worry, I knew what you meant. No, I don’t limit my intake per say. I really just aim to follow the PB as often as possible, namely eating plants and animals. My meals are pretty consistent with those described by Mark.

        PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
        • Paul & John:

          Interesting what you’ve written about limiting meat intake (or not). I’ve found (via self-experimentation) that I’m inclined to eat about TWICE as much of my daily protein need if I’m not actually weighing it out.

          Turns out, limiting protein to my actual needs (about 70 grams per day) is essential (for me) to stay in fat burning mode and keeping my weight where I want it to be.

          I’ve found that eating more protein than I need causes exactly what Peter Attia observed on his blog: “too much insulin.”

          For you two (and others), the day might come when limiting protein (and other things) might become necessary. As Paul alluded to in this post – what might have worked before might not always work.

          What we eat has to evolve as we do.


          Susan Alexander wrote on February 5th, 2013
  7. Thanks for posting this. I have kinda fell off the wagon over the past few months but articles like this help me refocus on get back on track.

    Matt wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Hi Matt, I am glad that you you enjoyed the read and trust that the article will continue to help you. Best.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  8. Fantastic post!!! Well done, keep up the inspirational work!

    You mention that you run to work and sometimes do sprints etc. Working with people I am concious of sweating, which has stopped me exercising en route to work. How do you manage this i.e. do you shower in work?

    Your executive workouts are excellent. Do pull ups, push ups etc. on cold muscles cause injury, or do you do anything to warm up?

    Sean wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Hi Sean, yes, I have a shower at work.

      I am glad to hear that you like the Executive Workouts so much. I have been drafting an using them for some time now and continue to enjoy them as well. As far as injuries go, I have been fortunate that the pull-ups and push-ups involved in the Executive Workouts do not cause issues from a lack of warm-up. I am often doing those exercises as part of another physical activity (bike ride to work, etc), so I am generally warmed up. Of course, if not warmed up, I exercise judgment and caution before I’d launch into anything of high intensity. All the best.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  9. Really enjoyed this post. Last year we built a large play area for our children, aged 11 & 7yo – one suitable for adult sized big kids. Including climbing wall, monkey bars 8ft from ground, etc. Since discovering PB last October I’ve been using that for workouts. Although with sub-zero temperatures I’ve bought a pull-up for inside – which the children are loving too. Primal lifestyle is really suiting my children too – even though they didn’t come to it as babies.

    Carol wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Hi Carol, glad you enjoyed the article so much. It sounds you like you’ve got a great set-up and routine, that you’ve carved out for your family. Well done.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  10. Thanks for this article. It’s a great reminder that our choices are so important, and we have to make time for the things that will help us be better parents. Chronic fatigue is like a punch to the gut, and very depressing when all you want to do is run around with your kids (I have 3 boys under age 6)but you can’t get off the couch. Focusing on my diet has helped tremendously, and now comes the challenge of fitting in exercise. After reading your article, I did a quick work out of pushups, crunches, lunges, and lifted weights. Then later I get to play volleyball! This outlook of taking a little time here and there is so freeing. I’m not beating myself up anymore because I don’t work out for 2 hours at a time. I actually feel better doing it this way! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Joanna wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Hi Joanna, thanks for your comments. Your reflections and comments are directly on point. A formal 2 hour workout may be nice; and it may have been in the cards in less busier times; but your three kids under 6 don’t afford you the luxary of consistent, two-hour blocks of time. That is really a small price to pay in excahnge for the joy and privilege of parenting though. However, getting meeting your fitness and health goals is still very important to you, accordingly, creating and utilizing pockets of space, for effective and efficient workouts is key, wise and fruitful. I am glad that you were able to today, and I really hope that you’ll continue to. Best.

      PA wrote on February 5th, 2013
  11. Loved this! Becoming a father isn’t a challenge to your fitness, it’s the most important reason possible to be fit.

    Paul, you’re right on that it’s not just good for the dad — and a help for the mom — it’s even better for the kids. I hope many dads-to-be heed your example.

    As an aside, your pull-up progress blows me away. Triple digits! I need some of that. :)

    Timothy wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Timothy: Thanks for your comments. Very glad to hear that you loved the article. Yes, you are correct, the net results of this are beneficial to many in the family. Glad you enjoyed the pull-up portion as well. The office sets originally began by repeat 3s 2s and 1s. They were increased to 5s and 10s in short order. Soon, sets of 10s and 20s became the norm, and getting daily totals of 100 to 200 could be met through consistent daily sets. All the best to you.

      PA wrote on February 6th, 2013
  12. What a GREAT post. Thanks Paul (and Mark).

    You’re so right about choice, and what you say about eating in a way that aligns with your life and age. Our nutritional needs change over time. It’s key to stay aware of what we’re doing and continually assess whether it’s still the right thing (and if not, how to tweak and adjust).

    I’ve recently made some major changes now that I’m …. 51!! It’s good I did, because if I hadn’t, I’d be well on my way to gaining a lot of weight, as many women do at this stage.

    I’m big into executive workouts too (I call them express workouts). I’m terrible at counting, and I don’t have a timer, so I time the various components of my workouts to music. I’ll create a playlist with enough songs to fill the time I choose to workout (20 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever). I know by now which are the short songs and which are the longer ones, and I do particular components of the workout to songs whose length makes sense for that particular component.

    This way, without having to count, I can let my mind go for the duration of the song and get into some serious flow. It’s like dancing to rock n’ roll, only more intense and sweaty. :-)

    Again, GREAT post. So full of actionable thoughts and ideas. Really well done. I have a feeling it’s going to help a lot of people.

    Susan Alexander wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Hi Susan, thank you for comments. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed the article so much. Your workouts sound great.

      PA wrote on February 6th, 2013
  13. I definitely need to get into this kind of routine. My eating habits have been refocused since gaining a bit too much “holiday joy”, but my exercise is all over the shop. I was even considering giving up my gym membership because fitting it in is getting so hard, and I adore my gym!
    Your ideas are all things I “know” are the best way, but I need to actually do them. I am inspired by your story, Paul, and also relieved – when it’s our time, it will be possible to have kids and keep fit and healthy without drama! I am going to use the intervening time now to build those habits in myself, and hopefully my husband as well :)

    Cledbo wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Thank you for your comments. Your attitude of planning and developing ways today that will assist tomorrow, is a great one when the time comes and your schedule becomes even busier. I am happy that the article inspired you and I wish all the best.

      PA wrote on February 6th, 2013
  14. Paul, Thanks for sharing with everyone. I love knowing that you like Mark’s blog more than mine :)

    Peter Attia wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Peter: I love your blog and I’ve learned a ton from it. It’s where I discovered Voleck and Phinney, whose endurance protocol I’m doing now – adapted for my needs. So far it rocks. :-)

      Susan Alexander wrote on February 5th, 2013
    • Ha ha. Thanks bro. You know that I love your blog too. And thank you again, for introducing me to Mark’s and, of course, for your perpetual motivation and inspiration. Don’t make me get all Shannon Sharpe on you now…

      PA wrote on February 6th, 2013
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    Caitlyn Wang wrote on February 5th, 2013
  16. Definitely subtle changes and fitting “little” things into daily life is the trick. Keeping the house adequately stocked with the right food, however, is FUNDAMENTAL, but also much more difficult when both parents have jobs outside of the home. It’s much easier when one partner stays home and can invest time in cooking. That’s very few people’s reality.

    Alex wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • Thanks Alex. Yes, things can be more challenging when both parents are busy (or if someone is a single parent), but of course, still very doable with some planning and will.

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
  17. Great post!

    BTW, for those of you who want to bike to work – find your route first – I take a back road and alleys for about 4 of my 9 mile commute, the rest is on roads that are really wide (with enough room for a parked car, the door zone, me, and another car to drive within the center line). Never really had a hairy moment.

    With clothes – find what works for you – for me, I’m not a fan of biking clothes or shoes, so I go with running pants tucked into socks (thick wool socks this time of year) and soccer shoes (Adidas Sambas normally). I have 3 pairs of pants folded in a closet at work, and bring a shirt, underwear, and undershirt with me daily.

    Clean-up – I’m a teacher, so no shower. I get here a bit early, check email while cooling off (yes, even in winter sometimes), then baby-wipe shower, deodorant and cologne, and a hair-style in the bathroom with stuff I keep at school.

    The bike – A lot of people are fans of mountain bikes for commuting – I have one that I use for winter weather and heavy loads, but normally, it’s an old Peugeot I converted to fixed-gear. With the exception of my club bike, all of my bikes have fenders – I wouldn’t commute without them. And the bike stays behind my desk, so it’s out of the weather.

    Also, GET LIGHTS! Good ones are expensive, and worth every penny. Spend a bunch on your headlight (get an LED with at least 1000 lumens; rechargeable is nice), and tail-lights, get a couple of blinky lights that take AAA batteries. I swap batteries in them maybe once every two months, and use flashing for commuting and steady-light for club rides/distance rides.

    MMcDaniel wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • Glad you liked the article, and thank you for the feedback.

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
    • And if you want to sneak around at night with a headlight, one with a red light option is ideal. It’s harder for people to see from a distance.

      Animanarchy wrote on February 15th, 2013
  18. Thanks so much for such a thoughtful article. I, too, am a dad (just one kid–so far!) and I had been subconsciously towing that line–Fit Father vs. Fat Father–and deciding, gradually, I didn’t want to be the fat dad.

    I have an image seared in my mind of another dad I saw at the park one day. The dad was obese and hunched over a mobile phone. He struggled to play ball with his son. I decided right then and there I would be fit enough to always enjoy play with my son.

    Thank you again for taking YOUR time to help the rest of us crystallize these moments of lucidity and put them into action. It’s a blessing to receive this article. You look great and clearly have Joy in life!

    Steve Gardner wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • Hi Steve, thank you very much for your comments, I appreciate your sincerity, and forgive me for taking a couple of days before I replied. That image seared into your mind is one that will motivate you no doubt, as you desire the ability to be engaged with your kids. It was my pleasure to make the time to write the article. All the best.

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
  19. As a mom of 2 kids, 2 yr and 1 yr, I can attest that small kids make it easier to be active if you include them. Just copying what your toddler does for 20 minutes can be an awesome workout, and power yoga means warrior pose with a baby hanging from each arm. I’m looking forward to moving into town so that I can travel by bike/wagon/stroller more often and have easier access to fresh food.

    Aubrey wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • Hi Aubrey, thanks for your comments. Your hands are certainly full with a 2 and 1 year old, but you have a great attitude and I am sure you’ll continue to be an active mom.

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
  20. What lucky children you have! Make sure and print this off to put in their scrapbooks. Just awesome!

    Trixie wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • Thank you very much for you kind words. I am glad that you enjoyed the article. All the best to you.

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
  21. Hi! I am one of Peter’s readers. What was in the water at the Attia house when you guys were growing up?! :) You must have had some great examples of high achievers and fitness fanatics . Your brother is a great man, as I’m sure you know. I have learned so much from him…life-saving things. Best wishes, maryann

    Maryann wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • Thanks Maryann. You are correct, Peter is an amazing human being, I am not saying that only because he is my brother; I would have the same view even if he were not. He has been a very positive influence in my life. As far as what may have been in that Canadian water we drank growing up, I am not sure, but we are both very blessed to have the parents we do, who, amongst many other things, instilled a very strong desire in us to pursue our passions with enthusiasm and intensity. All the best to you.

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
  22. Love the article. I’m trying to hit paleo. I’m a 42-year-old Type 2 diabetic who’s been overweight most of my life, and exercise is a foreign word to me. Any change would probably be good. But it’s nice to see that it IS possible to fit this into my schedule. Three kids can make it hard, but obviously it’s not impossible. Thanks for the encouraging article.

    Little John wrote on February 6th, 2013
    • Hi John, thank you for your comments. I am glad to hear that you loved the article. You are correct that fitting fitness into a busy life can be challenging, but certainly can be done. I wish you the best of luck in your quest; reading Mark’s book and MDA are excellent places to begin.

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
  23. I’m sorry if this was previously asked but…

    When does your wife find time to exercise?

    telly wrote on February 7th, 2013
    • She doesn’t. Just kidding Telly. Actually, she is the real athlete in the family and a much better one than me. She applies the same principles as discussed in the article, namely a very active lifestyle and setting up her days and her surroundings such that exercise can become an easy part of it (for e.g. workouts in the park, running with kids, a treadmill in the house, joining a gym with a daycare, and lots of play time).

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
  24. Oh, and I forgot to mention…great article. :)

    I’m the full time working mom of two (a 2 year old & a 1 year) & my husband works full time as well. Most primal / paleo people that write comments on blogs / forums seem to be young & childless still. It’s nice to get a person that REALLY knows what “busy” means to tell us how they’re fitting fitness (& lots of home cooking) into their lifestyle.

    telly wrote on February 7th, 2013
    • Thank you very much Telly. I appreciate your comments re the article and I am glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much. Your schedule is a very busy one with your two full time jobs (mother of a 2 and 1 year old and your other day job). But as you know, fitting fitness and health into your schedule is possible and in fact, makes your days even more efficient, based on the net energy you have. All the best to you and your husband.

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
  25. Great post Paul. Thank you for sharing your discoveries and inspiration.

    Scott C. Irwin wrote on February 7th, 2013
    • You’re quite welcome Scott. I am glad you enjoyed.

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
  26. Hey Paul
    Great post, silly question. what brand pullup bar is that. I am looking for something similar with a straight bar.

    adam wrote on February 8th, 2013
    • Hi Adam, the label on the pull-up bar is Powerline. The other one I use is a more simple device that fits inside most doorways. Best of luck to you.

      PA wrote on February 8th, 2013
  27. Expertly written, thorough and concise! I am a fellow attorney and this article pushed a lot of buttons for me. My fiance and I plan are in the middle of wedding planning, balancing social lives, and plan on having children in the near future. I can foresee more “executive” style workouts in my future, and I have suggested the idea of a pullup bar to the managing partner! Would you be able to share any additional executive workouts with the PB crew?

    rkdesq wrote on February 9th, 2013
    • I am glad you enjoyed the article and congrats to you on the upcoming nuptials. My apologies for not responding earlier. The managing partner’s approval of the pull-up bar is great. I’d be happy to discuss Executive Workouts with you further. I have a database of them that I have created over the years, based on time available, location and goals. Sharing them all here would be impractical. However, if you are interested in discussing more, let me know and we’ll set up a way for you to email me. Best, PA

      PA wrote on February 13th, 2013
  28. Hey, thanks for the article. It really made me feel better. I’m just starting my career as a lawyer, and I currently work about 10 hours a day, which is fine. I still manage to hit the gym pretty much every morning. What I’m concerned about is having to work more than 10 hours a day in the future. Ugh! Anyway–what do you do with your clothes? I imagine that you’re not wearing work clothes while running to and from work, especially since you’re getting down to do push-ups. Do you carry them with you in a backpack, or do you just leave them at work? I’ve tried running with a backpack before, and it starts chafing my shoulders/neck after a while. I’d love to run home from work every day (can’t run to work because no shower at work), but I don’t know how I’m supposed to carry all this crap while running.

    serenity wrote on February 12th, 2013
    • I am glad you enjoyed the article; thanks for the comments. Yes, depending on the nature of your law firm, your days are likely to get longer than 10 hours each and setting up practical and efficient exercise and nutrition patterns now will be useful. You can keep all suits at the office, assuming your office allows for that. In that respect, you can walk or bike in at an easy pace (as you have no shower) and then you can run home, not need to carry much with you (as all your suits are at work). Should you need a bag, find one specifically for running or skiing at most running or outdoors stores; which should help out your shoulders. As well, another option is to find a gym very close to work (as opposed to home), that way you can go before work, at lunch or after work and simply shower and change there. The options are endless. Best of luck.

      PA wrote on February 13th, 2013
  29. When I was in the “bullpen” once (the cell everyone at court is crammed into) another prisoner said that his lawyer dropped down in the courtroom before the trial started and did a set of pushups, acting really pumped, and said, “We’re gonna beat this, I’m just warming up!”

    Animanarchy wrote on February 13th, 2013
  30. I tried the frozen banana / cocoa mixture and it was really good.
    Other things I’ve found that mix well with cocoa are honey, molasses, juice (especially pineapple and blueberry).
    I tried a small amount with vinegar too. It was unpalatable, though a squirrel or something went through a lot of trouble and plastic trying to open the jar.

    Animanarchy wrote on April 25th, 2013
  31. Love the article, especially the bit about the 30,000ft. view. Paul, it’s been almost a year since you posted this, are you still able to follow all of these goals that you set for yourself? I need inspiration in my own journey.

    Tom wrote on September 23rd, 2013

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