Today, I’d like to share with you Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint
Primal Blueprint (PB) is a concept that allows you to obtain optimal health and fitness based on the lifestyle factors of our Paleolithic ancestors.
For me, Primal Blueprint was a real game changer, which is why I’m determined to get back on track.
What the heck is “primal?”
Primal lifestyle is very much aligned with paleo (pay-lee-o) or Paleolithic, a term used to describe a style of eating based on how our hunter/gatherer ancestors consumed food prior to modern-day farming, industry, and agriculture. The primary focus of a healthy paleo lifestyle includes consuming:
- real, whole foods
- food of high quality (grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, free-range fowl, organic produce, hormone and pesticide free)
- healthy fats and oils (coconut oil, avocado, macadamias)
- pills, powders, shakes
- grains, dairy, legumes, processed foods, starchy vegetables, dairy
PB vs. Paleo?
PB borrows from the paleolithic menu, but really pushes the whole idea of maintaining a long and healthy lifestyle a bit further through a modernized hunter/gatherer approach by adding in fitness and mental health demands. Represented by “Grok” – a 10,000-year-old primal human role model who was stronger and healthier than us – the PB is not a diet, it is a way of life. Since our DNA is virtually identical to this survivor of over two billion years of evolution, we can adapt our modern lifestyle to his survival-of-the-fittest-behaviors. PB does just that and uses the simplicity of evolution to create a lifelong roadmap toward health, happiness, physical fitness, energy, intelligence, and productivity.
The Primal Blueprint Basics:
PB can be summarized in 10 main commandments as listed in Mark Sisson’s book:
- Eat lots of plants and animals. Enjoy the natural, satisfying foods that fueled two million years of human evolution.
- Avoid poisonous things. Avoid processed foods (sugars, grains and chemically altered fats) that are foreign to our genes and make us fat and sick.
- Move frequently at a slow pace. Enhance fat metabolism and avoid burnout by keeping active but taking it easy.
- Lift heavy things. Short, intense sessions of functional, full-body movements support muscle development and delay aging.
- Sprint once in a while. Occasional all-out sprints trigger optimal gene expression and beneficial hormone flow.
- Get adequate sleep. Avoid excessive digital stimulation and sync with your natural circadian rhythm for optimal immune, brain, and endocrine function.
- Play. Balance the stress of modern life with some unstructured, physical fun (like a mud run!)
- Get adequate sunlight. Don’t fear the sun! Adequate sun exposure helps synthesize vitamin D to ensure healthy cellular function.
- Avoid stupid mistakes. Cultivate hypervigilance and risk management to avoid the stupid mistakes that bring “avoidable suffering” to modern humans.
- Use your brain. Engage in creative and stimulating activities to nurture your mental health and overall well-being.
Why I’m going Grok.
Minus a short stint in my youth, I was never really fat. However, I was also never lean. My whole life, I’ve struggled to maintain a decent level of physical and mental fitness through tedious cardio sessions, strength training, regular long-distance running and various diet approaches. If I ate what I wasn’t supposed to or skipped a gym session, I’d not only feel full and sluggish, but I would notice an immediate change in my body – my face fuller, my stomach less tight, my breathing less calm. I figured this struggle was genetic, along with a high risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer, something I couldn’t necessarily alter. Really, I was on a roller coaster, and I was growing reserved to the fact that I was just going to have to struggle for leanness my entire life, hoping that one day before I die I would actually reach my goal. Realistically, it would never happen on the path I was on.
In the business world, a “pivot” is when you quickly and decisively switch from one business model or product to a completely different one. I have always been focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but I never really had a clear direction. In 2011, my brother-in-law introduced me to the PB. I was intrigued by the idea of learning about nutrition and health and the PB seemed like a really interesting way to go about it. Who wouldn’t be enthused by the idea of shedding fat by acting like Grok, eating things like red meat and bacon, and getting adequate sunlight?! So, I made the pivot. I went all-in, sort of. See, Mark Sisson’s idea of PB dedication is an 80/20 approach. In other words, strive for an A+, but be okay with a B sometimes because making the pivot away from the Conventional Wisdom of modern day diet and nutrition into a primal lifestyle is drastic, and frankly, grass-fed beef and cage-free eggs are expensive!
I was 80/20 primal for about three years from 2011-2014. During this time, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt so good. Not only did I shed fat and transform my body to the leanest its ever been, but I rarely if ever felt sluggish or overly full, I felt mentally sharp and was in the best physical condition of my life. No joke! Back in 2012, after about six months on PB, I had my lipid panel taken just to see if eating a lot of bacon and natural fats were increasing my fitness level like the PB said it would:
- Total cholesterol: 176
- HDL cholesterol: 65
- Cholesterol/HDL ratio: 2.7
- LDL cholesterol: 102
- Triglycerides: 45
As you can see, not only was I reaping the benefits on the outside, but the pivot to the PB actually moved me into a preventative position against heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other fatal conditions associated with poor diet and nutrition. I also learned about food and exercise each day, knowing and understanding what I was eating and what activities I engaged in and the effects that go along with them. I did not diet, so I did not suffer; I simply ate what tastes good and what is good for me. I’ve also given up the chronic cardio, so I no longer tortured myself in my workouts. Instead, I followed a modified and FUN Primal Fitness routine that worked with my lifestyle. For me, The Primal Blueprint was a real game-changer, which is why I’m determined to get back on track.
It’s now 2017, and things changed dramatically in my life since I first started PB. I changed jobs, had three children (all girls), and purchased a new home. With kids, things like bread and sugar slowly made their way back into my life, and quick and easy meals, not necessarily healthy ones became a priority. Up until recently, I was eating shit and feeling like shit, and in early-January of 2017, I tipped the scales with the heaviest weight I’ve ever been–207 pounds! 207 looks terrible on my 5’9″ frame and feels even worse. I was tired of working up a sweat just from going up a staircase and sick of making excuses. In February, I turned 37 years old and decided that enough was enough – it was time for a change.
In so many ways I was lucky because I already knew the basics of how to get back to living healthy. I’ve been back on PB for about four months now, and I’ve shed nearly 30 lbs of fat and I’m nearly fully back to my lean-and-mean self. I’ve resurrected my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, hit a heavy bag once/week, and get outside to play with my girls or do some yard work whenever I can. I honestly feel better than I have at any time in the past three years. I know PB works, and as a dad of three, I’m now more focused than ever to live a long healthy life and experience each day with my family to the fullest. That’s why I’ve taken the time to write all this down and pass it on to you. I’m not saying it’s for every dad (or mom) out there, but it can be and if you ever struggled like me, it might just be the pivot you are looking for.
For further reading and understanding about the science behind PB and more about the causes and effects of Conventional Wisdom, check out Gary Taubes’ excellent book Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It or his latest book The Case Against Sugar. Another resource that was recently released and really helped me understand some of the history and nuances of primal living is Nora Gedgaudas’ Primal Fat Burner: Live Longer, Slow Aging, Super Power Your Brain and Save Your Life with a High-Fat Low-Carb Paleo Diet, Also, if you’re interested in honing in on the specific foods and habits that will affect your low-carb and/or ketogenic lifestyle, check out Robb Wolf’s Wired to Eat: Turn Off Cravings Rewire Your Appetite for Weight Loss and Determine the Foods that Work for You. Of course, if you have any questions about any of this, please feel free to post a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.