Unconventional Ways to “Get Primal”

Our previous instructions for getting Primal pretty much fell exactly in line with the Ten Laws. Not too exciting, but they worked.

How about some unconventional methods? You may be stepping outside of your comfort zone a bit, but that’s a good thing. Though I’m a big proponent of baby steps, sometimes (and especially for certain personality types) a massive change is precisely what we need to make progress. Besides, there’s not a whole lot about us that’s conventional in the first place, so I figured it wouldn’t be too drastic a leap.

Carry a Big Rock

This may sound harebrained, but I’m going to go with it. While out for a customary evening neighborhood walk with the wife last week, I happened across an enormous rock hidden in some bushes. It appeared to be of ornamental ilk, but since it had been abandoned to the elements, I felt no guilt in heaving it up to my shoulders and continuing on my way. I made sure to use proper form, of course – setting the back, keeping the core tight, lifting with the hips – without any issue, but getting the damn thing back to the house was a feat. In fact, I felt no compulsion to hit the weights as previously planned; my trek back to camp, rock in tow, was sufficiently grueling and my entire body was exhausted. Throughout the walk, I was constantly shifting it around from shoulder to shoulder. Its weight was such that keeping it in a single position for the duration wasn’t possible, and I think the constant movements made it all the more dynamic.

Next time you’re out on a walk, keep your eyes peeled for heavy objects. Rocks, tree stumps, truck tires, whatever’s bulky and difficult to carry home. Make like Grok and carry it back to camp for a great Primal workout and a decidedly Primal activity. Even better, you’ll always have an unconventional (and totally free) piece of exercise equipment to use.

Kick Off Your Shoes

If you’ve been reading about others’ glowing barefoot experiences with some envy but no will to try it yourself, perhaps it’s time you jump in. Lose the shoes for a day. Whether you’re off to the grocery store or the woods for a hike, going without shoes (without exception) is one way to force the Primal transition. Now, going shoeless at the mall is a little different from strolling through a dewy meadow with the blades of grass between your toes (you might step in deer droppings in the meadow, but at least you won’t have a surly security guard on your case), so a few adjustments can be made. Only wear socks. Pull on a pair of Vibrams. Or flout convention and bare your toes for all to see – avoid the sticky floor of the food court, though.

Try to spend at least an entire day without shoes to really take you out of your comfort zone, but be prepared for strange looks and offended sensibilities. A single barefoot day should be enough to convince you of the benefits, and your “sink or swim” introduction will make switching over to minimalist shoes and ditching the clunkers altogether a cinch. Your feet will thank you.

Catch a Bug

No, not the flu. I’m talking about those miniscule, multi-limbed creatures wearing exoskeletons. The average person may look at them in disgust and horror, but luckily for us (not for the bugs, however) the average MDA reader isn’t exactly average. To the modern arachnophobe, those eight legs scuttling across the ceiling bear pure evil; to the modern Grok, that’s just a mobile morsel of protein and fat. We’ve mentioned eating insects in the past, but how many of you merely read it, enjoyed a chuckle or two, and closed the window? How many actually took us up on the offer?

The fearless, after reading this post, may find themselves rooting through rotting trees for termites (60% MUFA) or raiding bee hives for the bees (rather than the honey), but for the squeamish, I recommend a more gentle introduction. Try chapulines, a Mexican delicacy of stir fried grasshoppers in garlic, chiles, and lime. If you like those last three ingredients, you probably won’t even notice the fact that you’re eating grasshoppers.

Disclaimer: Don’t worry. You don’t have to eat bugs to get Primal. Far from it. Primal foods are delicious and, well, much more ordinary than insects are for most people. As I alluded to earlier in this post, sometimes all we need is a way to force ourselves out of our comfort zones. What better way than to make like Grok and go bug hunting?

How about you, readers? Anyone got any unconventional tips for going Primal?

Cesar Rincon, Bert Heymans, H-Y-P-E Flickr Photos (CC)

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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35 thoughts on “Unconventional Ways to “Get Primal””

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  1. Hmmm…

    This is making me look at those Giant House Spiders that keep showing up in my room in a whole new light.

    Ok, not actually, but I do eat bugs that fly into my mouth. No one is the wiser.

  2. Most stores in the US have a No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service policy. When I lived in Sydney I used to see people going into the store barefoot all the time.

    In the summer I go barefoot at home all day long. I’ve even taken to doing my workouts barefoot. Hey it is a little less weight on the pull ups!

  3. I was walking yesterday and pretty much every country road at this time of year here in Ireland has ditches sprouting blackberries in every possible place. I can never resist them. I normally throw away any insect infested berries (the insects usually go for the same ones as me, the big ones!). Yesterday I said I’d gobble one up. No harm done 🙂

  4. Going barefoot is one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time. And I love training with stones – lifts, carries, throws – as long as good movement principles are adhered to, stones are a great training tool.

    I’ll leave the bug ingestion to the hardcore grokkers…

  5. One of my favorite ways to get primal is to swim outside in colder water lakes and rivers. Other than the occasional (and rare) geyser or hot spring, Grok never came across any warm or hot water. But people today bellyache whenever the gym’s swimming pool gets below 75F!

  6. I used to eat bugs a lot more often, but not so much since I’ve given up cereals. They don’t list it on the ingredients on the package of bread or boxed cereal, but those huge grain collectors are probably collecting a lot more than just the grains in those swaying fields of wheat, rice, or whatever.

    On the other hand, a restaurant at the Santa Monica Airport called Typhoon has an section on their menu for insects and includes such delicacies as Singapore Style Scorpions (actually it’s shrimp), Taiwanese Crickets, Chambi ants, and Thai Style White Sea Worms. Delicious!

  7. When I was in Costa Rica on a horseback riding trip the guide found us a bunch of termites. They tasted like carrots!

  8. “my trek back to camp” – love it!

    I wore my vibrams to work one day. now granted i work at an engineering company in san diego (which would allow for this type of stuff) – everyone loved them (including my CFO)!

    one CAN be primal in the corporate workplace!

  9. Yeah lots of my workouts involve grabbing rocks…but I pull on the ones that are intact and haul myself up the cliffs! try it, it’s a blast! You move in all different directions, core required, arms and legs too! Not sure if it’s primal or good, but sometimes we do rocks or other weights in the backpack and then climb.

  10. Now if I could find a good place to catch the big grasshoppers that wouldn’t take me all day for one mouthful.

    What are regular shoes? 😉

  11. Going completely barefoot for a day and carrying around a rock sound like great things to try, but I don’t think I’ll be intentionally eating bugs any time soon!

  12. I wonder- does lugging bags of groceries (from the Farmers Market), along w/ my gym bag & overstuffed, oversize pocketbook count as a primal workout? Sure feels that way! I live in NYC and often feel like a pack animal, with all the stuff I carry around daily.
    While on vacation at the beach it’s easy to lose the flip-flops in favor of going barefoot. We are spending several weekends this summer on Fire Island which has no cars which is a huge plus- all the “roads” are skinny boardwalks or sandy lanes.. And while on Nantucket last week, we only wore flip flops in town (btw, we never wear shoes in our home). But I’ve noticed that the arch of my foot is sore (same w/ my hubby’s). I guess it’s from walking in the sand. Scary how our feet get sore from doing what they are supposed to do!

  13. looks like im gonna need to go bug hunting 🙂 i really wanna see how it would taste with a few sauteed veggies!

  14. to add a bit more movement throughout my day, i’ve started walking for about 45 minutes each morning – often to the market. i used to only get things that would be light enough to comfortably walk home with – now i’ll consider throwing some apples in the bag!

  15. Before when we traveled, I used to pick up rocks as souvenirs and my husband would always complain about all the heavy luggage. He did not know he was being primal! LOL

    1. That’s funny! Sometimes as a joke climbers sneak rocks into each others’ backpacks…it can be useful if your partner hikes too fast.

  16. A couple of years ago I did a lot of work in the garden. One of the things I did was to build a stone wall that was about 12 meters long. I spent 3 summers lifting and moving approximately 20 tons of stone back and forth before the stone wall was completed.

    My tip for going primal is to dump unnecessary machines and do things by hand instead.

  17. Many bugs are infested with smaller bugs. It is best to cook them before ingestion.

  18. I’ve always loved going barefoot and loved even more when I could workout doing it (when I discovered martial arts and then yoga and pilates). It’s awesome that I have an even better reason to keep doing it now!!

  19. Unconventional tip for going Primal: hunt pigeons in your park with a bow and arrow while wearing the minimum legal amount of clothing.

  20. I love that I’ve actually grabbed a huge rock (40-60 lbs) from the side of the stairs at a local park and carried it up and down the 250+ stairs. It was rough, fun and great exercise.

  21. Helen, are you not familiar with one of the most famous “I Love Lucy” episodes where she is stashing her rocks in their little house trailer, much to Rickie’s chagrin? The car won’t pull up a hill, for instance, even after she promises “No more.” Of course, she can’t resist.

    Since I came to FL in Oct 07 I probably haven’t worn full shoes but ten or twenty times. Mostly sandals. But like now, mostly barefoot around the house. I’ve gotten my soles toughened to do 3.7 miles on the beach, boy were they tender at the beginning!

    The downside of barefoot is that I’ve whacked both feet on immovable objects. In fact, I wonder if my left little toe isn’t fractured or something. Make Grok was less clumsy…..

  22. In Cleveland we have a Latin restaurant called Momocco and they serve Chapulines. I’ve ordered them and they were pretty tasty.

  23. I had a great workout today that was much more enjoyable than carrying a rock. I took my 4 year old daughter to the National Aquarium and the Inner Harbor. Much walking, many steps, lifting my daughter to see better, and carrying her as she grew tired (along with a backpack with water, snacks, cameras and raincoats). I am beat now but fulfilled on so many levels (e.g. had a great time, good workout, a very happy and appreciative child that is just about to pass out beside me on the couch)

  24. Mark,

    Great stuff. Not sure about the bugs but it’s all about tapping our animal instinct.

    My tip for going primal is loosing your shirt.

    Similar to the barefoot experience above, walking around inside and outside your house without a shirt is an incredibly liberating experience.

    My neighbors don’t seem to mind and I always get a kick when a sales person rings my doorbell… when I say “No”, they seem to move along quite fast without digging into their pressure sales bag of tricks:)

  25. going barefoot? carrying rocks? honey, that puts me right back IN my comfort zone.

  26. Not far from me is a beach with a bunch of rocks instead of sand. They’re all polished nicely too because of the erosion, so I decided to take your advice. I walked down to the beach shirtless and shoeless, got some primal sun and carried back the largest rock I could conceivably carry. It was fun, although I was very sore from BJJ classes earlier. Anyway, I weighed it when I got home. 33.4 lbs. and a new piece of exercise equipment. Thanks!

  27. I love the idea of the Vibram Five Finger shoes. I looked at my feet and see that my big toe is pointed drastically inward. So, I am going to get a pair of those shoes. My only negative experience with PB is that the food, especially meat, is a lot more expensive than the non-organic, fatc-inducing food in the regular market. I spent almost $200 today on healthy organic foods and spices and got only four bags of food. I hardly ever spent more than $60 or so to get the same amount of “bad” food. So, I am cutting back on meats, since grass-fed beef is about three times the price of grain-fed. I will supplement my protein requirements with whey protein fortified fruit smoothies and see if I can get some good results.

    I am so tired of being fat and out of shape,especially because when I was younger, I was considered good-looking. Now, I’m just a fat guy with type II diabetes. I wlaked my dog the other day and sprinted the last 100 yards or so. As I was sprinting, I realized that my body had forgotten how to run! I used to play basevall, football, and soccer and now I can’t run correctly? I was running like Phoebe from “Friends”.

    Anyway, I am finding it pretty easy to go without sugar, grains, and bread. I am missing the amount of meat I used to eat, now that I am focused on eating the correct kind.