Live Primal and Minimalism

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Living primally and minimalism fit well together. Once you have begun to live a more primal lifestyle you will understand that is simplifies your life, gives you focus and “declutters” your health, nutrition, exercise, movement and lifestyle.

Live Primal is about making things easier; simplifying your eating, exercise, and lifestyle to reflect the ancestral patterns of our hunter gatherer past. You can’t get much more minimalist than that.

Primal living is a simple approach to eating, training, moving and living. It is minimalism for life. It helps to cut away the excess, the unwanted and the unneeded to make things easier and add more value to your life. By reducing grains, sugars and industrial oils you are making it is an easier way to eat and adds value to your life by increasing your health, decreasing inflammation and making you feel better. Simplified eating is eating real, unprocessed, whole foods and ultimately eating nothing that comes wrapped in plastic. This in itself helps declutter with no packaging!

It is a simplified, minimalist way for exercising. There are three pillars of exercising to the Live Primal ethos:

  1. Sprint once in a while– do a hard 5-7 all out sprints workout every 7-10 days. This replicates being chased by a predator and helps shaped our evolution as it made us quick and most of all lean. Nothing cuts you up like sprinting.
  2. Lift Heavy Things- Lifting heavy things increases strength and muscle mass. Our ancestors would have moved rocks and logs around daily for shelter and protector.
  3. Perform long slow endurance- if our ancestors weren’t being chased by lions or lifting log around to build shelter they would’ve been performing long, slow endurance to hunt, catch food and to move locations during different seasons.

Getting out in nature, getting out in sunlight, enjoying play, going barefoot are all primal lifestyle approaches that are mnimalist and add value to your life.

PLAY:

Aim to get out and just “play”, no structured workouts, gadgets and unwind from your daily grind. What ever this may be, enjoy yourself, live in the moment and have fun. It may be spontaneous decision to go kayaking or paddle boarding or a trip to the beach.  For us adults the idea of play has been forgotten, we are told you are too old for that, or you need to buckle down and focus on work. However, in this day and age unwinding from the stress of the day is vital to our health.

Play necessitates mental modeling, critical thinking, and creative innovation. It helps decrease stress and contribute to overall physical and mental health.

Rediscover Nature: spend time in nature and you will find our involuntary awareness takes over, senses are highlighted, sounds quieter, eyesight is more expansive and sense of smell more acute. Being in nature reverses the effect of “Direct Attention Fatigue (DAF)” or always being on the go! Attention Restorative Theory is the counter to DAF and it is believed that regular frequent exposure to tranquil, natural settings help to increase the amount of Natural Killer Cells or NK cells. These are lymphocytes that fight off infection.

Negative Ions, tiny highly reactive molecules that energize the body, are found in nature where the water, wind and sun split molecules in the air. These molecules are vital for reducing pollution and helping to reduce inflammation in the body. Nature, especially where there is water, have copious amounts of negative ions, where as our homes, cities and workplaces have large numbers of positive ions and almost no negative ions.

So get out in nature, hike, kayak, go play to get the enormous benefits of stress relief, decreased inflammation and increase in feel good hormones.

Earthing: is the belief that the Schumann Resonance or the earth’s natural vibration holds many health benefits. Earthing entails making direct contact with the earth, not pavement but natural earth like grass, dirt, soil and sand. It is believed that the natural vibrations help with moderating the circadian rhythm (so a better nights sleep) and moderating the stress hormone cortisol. So this week try going barefoot as much as possible and get out into nature with direct skin contact with the earth! See next weeks post about the earthing qualities of “Glacial Water”.

These easy simple overarching ways to exercise are simple, you don’t need a gym or any fancy equipment and they add value to your health, adds years to your life and you can enjoy it more as you feel better, move well without injury and are more resilient.

Living primal is a simple approach to nutrition, exercise and movement that declutters the excess and adds value to your life-the definition of minimalism.

 

Minimalism

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Lately I have really found the concept of minimalism intriguing. By lately I mean throughout the last year or so. So throughout the last year my wife and I have made a real focus toward reducing our material things, only purchasing things that will really hold value to us, getting rid of clutter round the house and keeping only possessions that we will use to help make our lives better. We are becoming minimalists!

Minimalism is term used to describe someone who has an interest or likes to keep things simple. This holds a lot of value for us to keep things simple, easy and stress free. We found having less stuff helped enormously with that!

Early last year, on the recommendation of one of my friends, I listened to a great podcast series and then watched a documentary by the same fellows-two best friends, Ryan Nicademas and Joshua Fields Milburn called Minimalism: A Documentary About Important Things. These two mates where high flying corporate types working hard for the man and getting paid a 6 figure salary. They lived large, buying things they didn’t need, getting further and further into debt. At one point Joshua thought, there got to be a better way, a bit like I did with my diet and Primal Living. So he started to “declutter”. He started to remove the things in his life that held no value. He said he felt lighter. He started to reduce his debt and cleared all the things in his life that no longer made his life more stressful. People started to notice he was happier, friendlier and looked healthier. He told his best mate Ryan about it, he liked the idea and eventually they packed in their corporate jobs to follow their passions. Such a good concept. I know not everyone can throw in their job and become a writer, in fact some people (like myself) love their jobs. But for them the job held no value, it was making their life worse.

For the Minimalists the definition or “elevator pitch” as they call it for minimalism… is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.

Minimalism is the tool that helped us simplify our life and strip away the excess so we could focus on what is truely important.”

How good is that quote! Simplifying your life to focus on what is really important. We don’t need the latest iPhone or the best or trendiest clothes, in fact the fashion and retail industry is completely wasteful forcing the changing of trends almost weekly to continue to sell product. Focusing on what really matters and keeping things that hold value in your life. I want to focus on that quote in further blog posts, ones linking the primal way of life and minimalism.

Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves“.

Another beautiful quote from The Minimalists. We are putting too much emphasis on things and stuff that doesn’t really matter! Focusing on our health, our family, things we love to do and contributing to society are all things that should be our focus not owning material possessions.

Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Minimalism has helped us…

  • Eliminate our discontent
  • Reclaim our time
  • Live in the moment
  • Pursue our passions
  • Discover our missions
  • Experience real freedom
  • Create more, consume less
  • Focus on our health
  • Grow as individuals
  • Contribute beyond ourselves
  • Rid ourselves of excess stuff
  • Discover purpose in our lives

Consumption is not the problem, we all need things, but its the getting value from the things we have. Thats the real trick, all the things we own should have a purpose and enrich your life. As a minimalist, everything you own serves a purpose or brings joy—everything else is out of the way, which allows you to focus on what’s truly important: health, relationships, passions, growth, and contribution.

If you too are interested in living a minimalist life, feel free to flick me an email. I would be more than happy to chat to you about it as well as anything health or fitness related. I beleive that if we have a clutter free mind we are able to focus on the important things like fitness and health and removing the junk for the house helps to declutter the house and the mind!

Also check out the Minimalist 21 Day journey to becoming minimalist, its very similar to my theory of 21 days to break a habit and the 21 day transition to Primal Living.

Next week I’ll be talking about health and minimalism…

Primal and the Ketogenic Diet

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Welcome to Part 3 of my 3 part series on the ketogenic diet, you can find part 1 and part 2 here…

Why the Ketogenic Diet and Primal Go hand in Hand…

You have probably heard of Paleo more so than Primal as it has been a trending topic for several years now. You may have heard it called the Caveman diet or ancestral diet. Eating Paleo is a lot like eating Primal (I have a post on the small differences here) but simply put primal and paleo eating is about choosing real, whole foods the our hunter gather ancestors would recognise as food. We don’t even have to go back that far, stuff our grand parents would recognise as good wholesome foods, nothing processed with high amounts of sugars, refined grains and industrial vegetable oils. Things like meat from cows who eat grass on a farm, organic eggs from chicken allowed to roam, graze and forage, natural fats like butter, lard and ghee. We have become far removed from this way of eating. It is possible to ketogenic without being primal/paleo and you can follow primal/paleo without being ketogenic, but marrying keto with primal is like a “match made in Heaven” for your overall health.

The ketogenic diet is an excellent way to keep you carbs down and your insulin in check. Following basic keto/primal/paleo principles fits how our bodies are designed to work. For our Primal ancestors, they ate all parts of the animals they hunted along with fish, fowl, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and one of the biggest sources of energy was from the animal fats they consumed. When food was scarce or they caught a big animal and ate a lot of animal fat, the thing that sustained their energy needs was ketones! Hunter gathers, due to their high consumption of animal meats and often long periods of fasting would have constantly been in a state of ketosis.

A state of nutritional ketosis occurs by increasing good fats, eating moderate protein and reducing carbohydrates. Backing this with a Primal philosophy for eating real, wholesome, nourishing foods will give your body overall health benefits that have been well documented on this blog as well as others including mental clarity, sharper focus and more vitality.

The Ketogenic Diet

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Welcome to my three part series on one of the most talked about diets in fitness, nutrition and healthy living; the Ketogenic Diet…

One of the biggest “trends” in nutrition at the moment is the ketogenic diet or as you may have heard to referred, Keto. I say trends in inverted commas because this is one diet that I believe should be here to stay.

The term ketogenic comes from the term ketones, which are the molecules that fuel your body when you are in ketosis, or when you are eating following a low carb high fat protocol. Ketones are a by-product of when your body burns fat and they are what your cells use for energy.

There are numerous peer reviewed research papers that suggest the ketogenic diet fixes a number of metabolic syndrome conditions like poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes as well as weight issues and there is even evidence it helps autism, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and a host of other neurodegenerative disorders

The reason why I like it is for weight loss, lifestyle and long term control of weight.

There is currently a ketogenic diet revolution underway and its only going to gain strength. I believe it should be the way of the future for helping the obesity epidemic currently facing the world.

 For decades we have been told that the healthy diet is smaller portions, fewer calories, lower our fat intake, eat whole grains and limit meat consumption. There is a disturbing lack of evidence that this is true, in fact it could be the opposite.

But what is the Ketogenic diet?

At the most basic level the keto diet is one that relies on fat as the main source of energy. That may not sound like a big deal but most people are burning glucose or sugar for fuel and consuming large amounts of carbohydrates, sometimes as often as 300-500g per day, to meet those needs.

Burning fat as a fuel source is a much healthier and more efficient metabolic tool for improving health. Dr Steve Phinney and Dr. Jeff Volek, experts in the field of exercise and low carb high fat (LCHF) eating, note that sugar burners have approximately 2000 calories of available in their body whereas fat burners have about 40,000 calories worth of fuel.

To get your body to prefer fat as its fuel source it requires you to restrict carbohydrates (to somewhere below 50 grams per day), eat moderate amounts of protein and eat as much fat as it takes to feel satiated or full. It take a few weeks to become fat adapted, possibly up to about two months according to Jimmy Moore, podcaster for livin’ the vida low carb and author of several excellent books on keto and keto cooking. To me it makes sense that if you want to burn fat, you need to feed your body fat and become fat adapted. Calorie counting and exercise do not work for long term weight loss. The keto diet, where you are changing you bodies fuel pathway sources to prefer fat over carbohydrates, means you will burn fat as your primary energy source and therefore, lose weight and keep it off.

Part 2 in the series looks at how the ketogenic will heal your body…

Helping kids behave better, concentrate harder and become Primal.

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Kids are naturally inquisitive, engage in imaginative play and regularly exercise. This means they are, without knowing it, on their way to becoming a Primal human being. They naturally want to explore, play in the dirt and run around barefoot. But what happens when our kids when they get in a habit of too much technology, computers and  screen time. What can you do as a parent to break the cycle of dependence on screens? I know my kids become staring zombies, grumpy, irritable and less efficient when looking at a screen for even 10 minutes. They get focused on the screen and cannot communicate, let alone be distracted enough to listen to a simple request. There are several things you can do to help you kids become primal like diet and exercise but the big one is reducing screen time. These things, and more, will help improve multiple facets of your little one life’s including concentration, behaviour and even mood.

  1. Diet- Improving your child’s diet is the number one factor in your child’s health. If you can change their eating to more of a primal aligned diet they will have an increase in cognitive function, mood and behaviour. Things you can do to improve diet
  • Eat more plants and animals including lots of veges and a piece of fruit a day.
  • Avoid processed foods high in sugar and vegetable oils.
  • Limit intake of all sugars including juices, sweets and lollies.
  • Set consistent meals times and eat as a family at a dinner table, not in front of the TV.
  • No junk food the large amounts of vegetable oil and hidden sugars are inflammatory and equate to doses of radiation according to Dr. Kate Shanahan author of Deep Nutrition.
  • Control the portion sizes, especially with snacks.
  • Get your child involved in the making of a meal and the setting of the dinner table.
  1. Regular exercise- having your kids involved in regular exercise helps break the addiction of screen time. We all know that regular exercise has physical benefits and helps prevent childhood obesity but it can also help with concentration, sleep and behaviour. It increases blood flow, which helps with the transporting of oxygen to the muscles with helps nutrients to reach organs and tissues around the including the brain. It has also been proven to promote better brain function, memory, concentration. It has also been reported that anxiety and depression levels decrease in correlation to increased amounts of exercise which improves mood, confidence and self-esteem.
  1. Sleep Habits– Poor sleeping habits are linked to poor cognitive performance, mood, short term memory loss and an increase in food consumption due to disruption of the circadian rhythm and the hormones effecting hunger. Things you can do to improve sleep:
  • No technology before bed time and if you can try avoid TV or any blue light screen 30 minutes to an hour before bed.
  • Set a routine- same time every night, read a book, sing a song.
  • Make the room as dark as possible (tough with young ones who are scared of the dark).
  • No snacking before bed.
  • Have anything electrical with artificial light (clock radios, night lights) away from your child, the skin has receptors that detect light and this messes with our bodies sleep rhythms.
  1. Limit the use of technology- It is believed by many psychologists that a child’s poor mood and behaviour often results from excessive use of electronic devices. This causes hyper-arousal or “tired and wired”, where the child is agitated and exhausted. Excessive use of technology can also lead to poor social interactions as well as affecting sleep, circadian rhythm and hormones. It is recommended by the Health department that kids between the ages of 2-5 years have less than an hour a day. Getting children out into nature, getting sunshine and engaging in imaginative or structured play is primal in its nature and has many flow on effects including cognitive function, mood, fitness and behaviour.
  1. Social Interactions– Helping kids develop healthy social interactions teaches them the values, knowledge and skills that help them relate to others effectively and make positive contributions to family and the community, much like it would have been in primal times as hunter gathers. Team sports and joining community groups can help with positive social interactions. Other ways you can help you child in a “tribe” setting:
  • Teach them to solve day to day problems they encounter.
  • Help them to think through solutions to those problems.
  • Ask questions.
  • Encourage them to empathise with others- “how would you feel if…”
  • Encourage them to state their opinions and thoughts and discuss moral issues with them.
  1. Be consistent with expectations, routines and rules- be consistent gives children a known predicted outcome any given situation. If they know that there is consistency they will know where they stand, the expected values, knowledge and outcomes from their behaviour. Inconsistency can cause anxiety.

These simple and easy steps can help you child function better, concentrate harder and will improve their mood and behaviour. They are by no means hard things to implement and will help them Live Primal, which is in fact how we should live. If we can model good behaviours, like following the Going Primal blog post from a few weeks ago, our kids will inevitably want to do the same.