The fact that the Paleo diet is getting so popular and well known is a good thing. Sort of. It’s good because people are getting exposed to a very healthy, intelligent diet. With that, they’re also being exposed to things like lifestyle changes, local and organic food, pastured meats and sensible, functional movement. It’s bad though, because – to the casual observer – Paleo can look like just another “diet.” The Paleo diet just gets thrown into the heap with all the other diets. Now there’s ONE MORE “diet” for the casual dieter to try or just read about and wonder if it can work for them to finally “lose weight.”
I’m at the point in my own “Paleo evolution” where the diet part of the Paleo diet isn’t even that interesting to me. I know what to eat and what not to. For me, it’s more about:
- Finding better quality, local food and making better connections with those who produce it
- Creating habits that make me do what I know I need to without thinking about it or struggling or using “willpower”
- Being kind and nurturing to my body
- Reducing stress everywhere I possibly can
- Building a lifestyle that is fully aligned with my health, training, career and spiritual goals
The above is more involved, more interesting and more important to me than debating whether my ancestors could have eaten bananas in February or whether my morning smoothie is actually Paleo since it requires an electrical device to prepare.
It’s All in Your Habits…
I talked about how “cerebral” we like to be in an article for Paleo Magazine recently. There are a few reasons we’re like this, but I think a major factor here is that thinking about stuff is a lot easier than doing it.
It’s easier to spend two hours debating about a minor diet topic on Facebook or Paleo Hacks – with other people who are sitting at their computers too – than it is to implement change and start setting yourself up into a long term habit pattern that will get you where you want to go.
It’s hard to break out of your current, less healthy, habits and routine and do the uncomfortable work of building a new routine that puts you on track to be better than you are today in 6 months or a year or two years or more. It’s a lot easier to put off your changes until you “have more information” or “are completely sure this is the One True Path.”
My New Habit…
Most everyone who reads my stuff knows that I’m big on yoga and mediation. Overall, I’ve been quite consistent with both since I started back around 2007. “Overall” doesn’t mean day in and day out though. Since I tend to run out of steam for writing and working on the computer around 3pm or so anyway, I’ve decided to implement a DAILY habit of yoga followed by meditation at 4pm EVERY DAY. This is a time that I can pretty much guarantee I’ll be home and it’s a good bet that whatever writing and computer work I’m doing will be done – or I’ll be too tired to do more – by this time.
I’ve become fully convinced that this change will take me to the next level of health and well being – and I’ve even gone so far as to find a meditation teacher to work with weekly.
I’ve seen what habits can do – and some of mine over the past year have led me to mixed results. So, this is my effort to very consciously start laying in new habits that will take me where I want to go over the next year or two and more…
You Have to Change Your Life…
Whatever it is that you’re struggling with health-wise – be it overweight, depression, anxiety, digestive illness, limited athletic performance, inflexibility, back pain, etc. – the issue is the CUMULATIVE effect of all your life choices, your habits and even your thoughts large AND small. In fact, the small behaviors are very often more important than the big ones. The small ones are the ones you don’t really notice and they’re the ones that can silently add up to big results – good OR bad.
Crash Diets and Good Habits…
In a recent post from Seth Godin – Crash Diets and Good Habits – Seth talks about exactly what I’m talking about here:
“The reason [crash diets] don’t work has nothing to do with what’s on the list of things to be done (or consumed). No, the reason they don’t work is that they don’t change habits, and habits are where our lives and careers and bodies are made.”
– Seth Godin
If you’re reading this blog then you very likely know (or are reasonably sure) Paleo is the way to go for your health or performance goals – whatever they are. And, if you follow my stuff you know that “Paleo” is a broad and adaptable enough template to deliver for nearly everyone.
Now, ask yourself this:
Is it really more INFORMATION you need to take the next step and create some healthier habits and more fully implement good practices in your diet, training and life? My bet is that you probably KNOW what you need to at least get started. Do you know enough to get started? Would committing to Paleo and doing it 100% every day likely make a positive difference in your life?
Usually, people like to fire back with more questions – “what about my calcium levels,” or “how much fruit should I eat” or “Dr Oz says meat is bad” or – my favorite – “when do I get to ‘cheat’?”
The bottom line is, there are virtually NO negative consequences to adopting a diet of pastured, hormone free meats and organic local vegetables and fruits. There are also virtually NO downsides to slowing your life down a bit, doing some healthy movement and meditation, getting out in nature and turning off the computer earlier.
Do you REALLY need to read another book, spend another five hours arguing with someone online or wait for a doctor or expert to tell you it’s “safe” to do? Even if Paleo wasn’t the “best” approach, could it possibly be SO far off that correcting course would be a massive effort? Do you really need more information to start?
I’m not saying not to pursue more knowledge or information in general – I’m saying not to pursue more information BEFORE YOU START. Just start.
In my case, I know enough about yoga and meditation (though I don’t know a ton) to know that doing it every day will accumulate massive benefits for me and my life – particularly given my particular needs and challenges. And, I know more than enough to get started with a daily habit. I’ll learn the rest as I go over the months and years. I don’t need more information to START…