A recent article confirms that, for better or worse, instant body composition changes from diet or exercise are relatively few and far between. Now, the exercise and diet routines referenced in the NY Times piece were likely conventional low-fat, low-cal diets and traditional workouts (chronic cardio, isolation exercises) as opposed to Primal, but I agree with the basic conclusions: that changes in body composition only come with diligence and consistency. If you’re expecting instant results, prepare to be disappointed.
And that disappointment, I think, is at the heart of what causes most derailments. I’ve said this before, but our society is afflicted with a sense of entitlement. We feel entitled to quick results without making the changes that make them possible. We are essentially a country of line-cutters, totally unwilling to consider patience. (Don’t get me wrong. I’m the biggest proponent of finding the easiest route, the simplest method and cheats or hacks to get the best results with minimal effort. There is an important distinction here. It’s about working smart instead of working hard. Unfortunately, too many people are unwilling or unprepared to even do the former.) Conventional fitness and diet advice don’t help. People are inundated with talk of instant results, “eat chocolate cake and lose 10 pounds in a week!” type nonsense – and that just isn’t realistic. On the contrary, it’s basically harmful because it gives us unrealistic expectations. When those expectations aren’t met, we tend to get discouraged or, even worse, assume that all “diets” and all exercise are futile endeavors.
In an ironic way, the founded-on-evolutionary-science Primal Blueprint is actually quite perfect for the modern “instant results” crowd. It’s not a withholding diet (unless you’re addicted to carbs, in which case: knock it off!). It doesn’t leave you starving at the end of the day. You get to eat “forbidden” foods, like rare steaks and fried eggs. And because it instantly snaps us back into the efficient hunter-gatherer mode our bodies are meant to run on, most people who try the Primal Blueprint and stick to it enjoy immediate and protracted benefits.
Just don’t let that deter you from your ultimate goals: good health, a strong body, and an enjoyable life. Keep your eye on the prize, accept that health and fitness is a constant journey (with all the twists, turns, highs, and lows that come with any journey), and you’ll be okay.
The Primal Blueprint is indeed a particularly painless lifestyle hack designed for effortless weight loss and steady progression, but everyone experiences plateaus. When you do, remind yourself “I’m not going to change overnight” and “This is supposed to happen; I should expect this.” Keep moving forward. Slowly – or quickly, it all depends – but surely you’ll see results. Armed with the knowledge that plateaus and leveling off periods are normal, you can bypass the negative thoughts and wild emotions often associated with changing your body and health, instead of giving in to the fear that derails most people from diets and sends them off in search of the latest fad.
If you’re already fit and trim and healthy, understand that the reverse is true for you. Skipping a few days, or even a month of exercises or eating right won’t derail you completely. You have a lot of room for error, too, and it’ll take more than that to undo your hard work.
I realize I’m probably sounding a bit cheesy and Dr. Phil-ish, and I apologize, but my point still stands.
(Of course, if you’re completely stagnant without any improvement, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your habits. Re-read the Primal Blueprint and curb your carb intake (that’s usually the culprit in slowed gains). The trappings of modern life have a habit of sneaking in without us realizing it, and constant vigilance is important.)
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.