The Snowball Effect: How Small Changes Can Have a Big Impact

SnowballI don’t think it’s any big secret that the Primal Blueprint flies in the face of conventional wisdom. After all, it’s a different way of eating, moving, and even living to some degree. Beyond the varying specifics like Primal snacks or yellow lensed glasses, however, I think there’s a more amorphous, underlying dimension to the experience. People tell me there’s something about it that changes their vision – how they see everything from marketing ads to cultural traditions, social expectations to personal values.

Adopting (and adapting) the Primal Blueprint involves participating in an alternative choice of sorts, living at least a little bit outside the mainstream routine. Some people relish this element of the experience. Perhaps they already situate themselves on a cultural fringe in some regard and just find the caveman/woman element that much more fun. For others, however, the alternative presents something of a vexation at times, even a stumbling block, particularly if those around them are seated squarely in the conventional realm. Yet, plenty of us make peace (and even find fulfillment) with living slightly on the outskirts of average, intentionally out of everyday touch with some of the central health habits and fads that direct our mainstream culture.

When people first begin toying with the Primal Blueprint, their transition revolves around elements like taste adaptation, menu planning, and exercise revamping. With time, other experiences come into play. They seek out different shopping sources, maybe ordering certain things online, becoming a co-op junkie, or growing some of their own food. They might buy half a cow at a time and start eating organ meat. They may start wearing those weird barefoot shoes (or just skip them altogether). Perhaps they join a different kind of gym or use their current one in a new way. Maybe they drop the gym entirely and work out solely outdoors or put together a CrossFit inspired home gym. They might change where they go out to eat or maybe just don’t eat at restaurants as much anymore. Perhaps over time they cut back their Internet or T.V. at night or spend less time on their phones throughout the day. Oftentimes, they start buying different books or magazines and change what they read online. They may cut some commitments to give them more weekend time outdoors or with family. They move. They switch jobs. They build new social circles. You name, I’ve heard it.

A person goes Primal, and two years later, oftentimes, his or her lifestyle is suddenly more fluid. Her view of work changes. His parenting style shifts. Her social life adjusts. A big time, stressed out suit in the city moves to the country, takes up farming, carries his one-year-old around in a sling, grows a beard and gets himself a Grok tattoo. Sure, that’s a pretty dramatic transformation, but it has happened. A million permutations, a million stories.

I think the key here is context. We accept new choices into our lives and are heartened, even blown away, by the positive changes we experience. Naturally, we want to deepen our commitments, try new aspects of the PB, expand our Primal horizons. To take on the new we inevitably have to give up some of the old. We migrate, perhaps unconsciously, in a new lifestyle direction. What we do with our time, where we spend it, and who we spend it with changes, and the end result often looks less conventional than it did in the beginning. We suddenly realize the personal distance we’ve traversed.

There’s real power in context, of course. As our inner mindsets change, our outer contexts shift and gravitate toward the people, environments, and events that in some way support the life we want to live. Our contexts help us grow into the commitments we make. We organize our schedules around our goals. Why shouldn’t we build our lives around the supports that help us get there, that help us feel good, that help us live well as we define it?

It’s a funny thing, how taking on a countercultural diet – maybe to lose a few pounds, address a chronic condition or gain more energy – can result in deeper changes than we ever anticipated. We start with Primal food or maybe fitness, and with time we end up questioning our participation in other standard practices or our feelings about other common choices. Maybe it’s nothing more than different magazine subscriptions or shoe wear. On the other hand, maybe it’s a major life metamorphosis.

Ultimately, I think it’s part of thriving – to foster congruence in our lives, to have our outer lives align with our inner intentions. It doesn’t mean every friend – or maybe any friend – is Primal. It doesn’t mean we’re raising chickens in our backyard (or would ever want to). It doesn’t mean we all do CrossFit, co-sleep with infants or relish a good liver and onions. The Primal Blueprint, after all, takes the shape of each person’s interest and aim. That said, there’s something to accepting a blueprint that dances along the edge of modern day social norm and the inherent community that this fact builds. It makes for undoubtedly great conversation, the occasional inside joke, and some much valued reflection.

Have you found you’ve shifted your external “contexts” as you’ve lived Primal? Was it a subtle or dramatic shift, an intentional or unconscious adjustment? I hope you’ll share your experiences and perspective on the board. Thanks for reading today, everyone.

About the Author

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.

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