If you didn’t have to set an alarm to get up and get ready for work, or if you didn’t have to concern yourself with the phrase low carb because you ate what you foraged without concern for drifting in and out of ketosis, what would your days look like?
- What would be the first thing you’d do in the morning and what time would you get up?
- What would be the last thing you’d do at night?
- How big would your social circle be?
- If you had to walk through the woods barefoot to visit your friends would you have as many friends as your social media profiles suggest?
- Would you have a tan?
What is valuable to you now? If your income couldn’t buy you anything, what would be of value to you then?
Perhaps defining what we value and prioritizing actions that support those values, regardless of that the required actions may be at odds with our current lifestyle, is important. More specifically, living primally is about acknowledging that meeting our most basic human needs is valuable. The below rules identify those primal needs.
Eat Lots of Plants and Animals. There’s more to eating than just what we see with our eyes and what we taste on our tongue. Imagine expecting your car to start with a tank full of water. For an engine to run, the proper fuel is a necessity. Same for us! Bottom line; eat a lot of the right kinds of foods! It’s not about how much junk you can eat without doing damage, it’s about figuring out what is needed for our bodies to run like well oiled machines.
Avoid Poisonous Things—foods and otherwise!!! From snake bites to ivy to peanuts, there are poisons everywhere. Use some common sense here but also think outside the box. I drank milk every day with cereal for breakfast for the better part of my life. I ended up quitting dairy completely for two weeks at the suggestion of a coworker who thought I was pregnant due to my complaints of frequent nausea. Two weeks in I had about a tablespoon of yogurt to test my reaction to see if I’d experience any negative digestive symptoms. Long story short, I don’t drink milk anymore! Watch out for hidden poisons and protect yourself.
Move Frequently at a Comfortable Pace. Bottom line, we are made to move so use what you’ve got and keep moving. When we stay still, our super smart brains become convinced over time that there’s a reason. The mechanisms that support movement fade in order to become more efficient at being still. Ugh. For once it’d be great if we weren’t that great at adapting! The point is to move regularly, and often enough to make sure your body knows it’s necessary. Just move frequently at a slow comfortable pace; i.e. spend more time vertical than horizontal!
Sprint Once in a While. Ever burn your tongue on a hot cup of coffee or tea? If so, it’s probably not something that happens every time you enjoy a hot beverage because the consequence is painful and you learned from it. Now imagine that you’re enjoying an evening stroll after dinner. You’re walking along and see a child playing with a ball that’s rolled into the street and in your peripheral vision you see a car speeding toward where the ball is headed. The driver doesn’t see the child, the child doesn’t hear the car, and your adrenaline moves your body from a leasurly pace to ‘Ludicrous Speed’ instantly to stop the child before she runs into the street after the ball. Instead of a burnt tongue, the consequence here is that your body wants to prepare for a similar occurrence in the future and knows fine tuning muscles and dropping excess weight will yield better results at the next go around. If you’re looking for a way to up your body composition ante, sprinting is it!
Get Adequate Sleep. It’s after midnight and exhausted moms everywhere are awake aimlessly skimming the internet on their phones in bed, soaking up a little me-time. Addiction issues to non-existant me-time aside, we need sleep! It’s when we repair and regenerate from the damage of the day. It’s when we grow and process what we’ve learned today so we can apply it tomorrow. Adequate sleep helps us successfully navigate endeavors in other areas, so don’t sabotage your plans by skimping on this super important need.
Play. Children ask to play as if ‘no’ for an answer cuts off their oxygen supply. They need play like they need a coat in winter. Why, as adults, have so many of us lost that urge to play, that need to prioritize it above all else? Honor the need to play instead of dismissing it—for the same reason kids do—it’s fun! Playing is also a great way to stay active without thinking of it as exercise and it keeps our brains growing in new directions.
Lift Heavy Things. Breakthroughs exist at the very edge of our limits. This goes for many achievements in life; physical, emotional, spiritual, etc. Pushing our bodies to the point of physical exhaustion (only when we have the strength and energy to do it!) is when we see positive gains. The key is realizing all that’s needed is about two 10-30 minute sessions a week to develop muscle and delay aging.
Get Adequate Sunlight. Ever notice your mood change with the seasons or with the weather outside on different days of the week? The sun affects us positively inside and out, yet we’re so conditioned to fear sunshine. Burnt skin after hours outside around high-noon is a poor choice, but we can’t blame the sun for our choices. With some basic knowledge, it’s possible to manage our sun exposure to stay safe while soaking in the many benefits of the sun’s rays.
Avoid Stupid Mistakes. Millennia ago, if a caveman slipped and fell on a rock, an injured bone could have prevented him from feeding his family; an open wound could have led to a deadly infection. I bet ancient men and women expended considerable energy in intense bouts of concentration with one goal in mind: avoiding stupid mistakes that could hugely affect the survivability of their circumstances. So what stupid mistakes come to mind in our modern day context? Texting and driving? Staying in toxic relationships? Not tying your shoelaces? The consequences range far and wide. Be prudent and expand on your own decision making skills to avoid making stupid mistakes with far reaching consequences.
Use Your Brain. Robert A. Heinlein said, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” We weren’t made for one purpose. Our brains are capable of experiencing many many many different things, so go after something new! Learn a new language, to play an instrument, a new craft, etc.. And see where it takes you. So many of us are unsatisfied with life, it doesn’t come down to what we have as much as it does to what we do. Our brains are bored. Give the powerhouse that built the rest of you a good workout!
These primal lifestyle rules have shone a light on areas of my life that are incredibly valuable that I never really gave a second thought to years ago. Playing, taking time to stop and smell the roses, and appreciating each and every bite of food that passes my lips has made my journey toward good health much more enjoyable than simply implementing a fad diet. Join me over the next few weeks as I dive into the details of each individual topic, one by one.