We’re Consumers – Let’s Act Like It…

Challenging the Status Quo_REV_3


“Mass is withering. The only things pushing against this trend are the factory mindset and the cultural bias toward compliance.”

– Seth Godin

The purpose of modern medicine isn’t to make us healthy. It’s purpose is to process a patient with an existing condition according to the rules.

Factories process. But the Industrial Revolution is over in America and we’re becoming more and more niched, more and more empowered and more and more individual. More “weird” as Seth Godin says it in his book “We Are All Weird.”

But, still, there are big interests – Big Pharma, Big Agriculture, Big Medicine, etc. – that really want and NEED us to cooperate. They want to define the diseases, the modes of treatments, sell us the drugs and let us leave it all to them.

It’d be a lot easier for them if we’d just go along with the program…

Except that this approach isn’t working anymore and “easier for them” isn’t really anything I aspire to contribute to. We are consumers and we have more choice than ever. We live in a free, capitalist society and we are CONSUMERS. Why don’t we act like it – or act like it enough – in the health and wellness sphere?

Stop Acting Like You’re Poor…

“When people are truly poor, ‘Take it or leave it’ is an appropriate strategy. Poor means no choice, so the provider gets to choose. Commodities were the best you were going to get, so marketing was primarily limited to ‘here, want some?’”

– Seth Godin

We need to stop acting like we’re poor when it comes to health, doctors and healthcare. We have choice. We have a lot of choice.

I think we also have a responsibility to seek and try new therapies and approaches and choose doctors and providers who want to COLLABORATE with us on our heath instead of dictate and just prescribe pills.

We should be challenging the status quo in healthcare every day.

Part of the problem, of course, is that most people only go to the doctor when they’re sick. Usually after a long time spent making bad lifestyle choices. This is where the “take it or leave it” attitude comes in on the side of the medical establishment. They’re used to seeing people who don’t want to change and don’t want to admit any part in the health predicament they find themselves in. So, they’re conditioned to just pander to that: “Here’s a pill, it’s not your fault, there’s nothing you can do about it anyway…”

When those of us who have devoted our lives to healing, growing and learning about health and healing our world show up, most doctors can find us confusing and even completely frustrating.

But we have so many options now. There’s a world of information at our fingertips. There are so many options. We can find someone to help us with anything at anytime – if we put in the work to find them.

For many, many years – after I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2004 – I was really careful to avoid doctors and hospitals at just about any cost. I was sick of having the conversation where I tell them I’m not on any medication to “control” the UC and I’m doing a Paleo diet and feeling fine and on and on. The response was always the same: “There’s no known cause for UC and no cure, diet has nothing to do with it, a “restrictive” diet will cause you more problems…” And, there is always my favorite, the classic, the Head of Gastroenterology at a major university hospital telling me he was concerned that my diet didn’t include bread. Bread…

More recently, I’ve been taking a more proactive approach to my healthcare. I’m the customer and I’m going to use the services of those who understand me, help me on my path to health and longevity and generally make my life easier and better.

I’m making the choice to seek out skillful, customer-service oriented and progressive people – while I’m healthy – so that I have a customized team of people to help me when I need it. This is the third option. It’s not blindly following along with what anyone in a white coat says, but it’s also not avoiding all doctors and healthcare practitioners and trying to do everything myself. It’s the middle ground and it’s me taking proactive control of things.

I’m the CEO of Adam’s Healthcare, Inc.

I interview. I hire. I fire. I reward competence. I do not tolerate incompetence, closed-mindedness or conservative or intolerant attitudes. It’s my “project,” my life, my team and my freakin’ money.

I also have a BS in Chemistry from UConn and was on my way to med school before being sidetracked by the lure of a biotech career after college. I’ve done real research, I’ve taken the same undergrad classes, I’ve shared classes with pre-med students (and been largely unimpressed) and technical terms or organic chemistry nomenclature doesn’t scare me. I’ve also seen the ugly, ugly side of venture capital and grant-driven research. I’m even ashamed to say that I did some bad science here and there because someone above me told me to. I know the game and studies showing some crazy new drug is “safe” are pretty meaningless to me as are a “lack of studies” showing the efficacy of something like the Paleo diet.

“Essentially, if you torture the data, it will confess.”

– Regina Nuzzo, PhD, a statistics professor at Gallaudet University (Washington, DC)

Assemble Your Team…

For those of us modern “health nuts,” I think we need to assemble a team of intelligent, progressive, like-minded thinkers to help us on our path and give THEM our business, our insurance cards and our money.

It can take a lot of time, legwork and money to find good people, but they can be found.

There’s a small, independent walk-in medical center a few towns over from me. They’re quick, clean, customer-oriented and they don’t make a big deal out of minor things. It took me some time to find them, but it was worth it. I go when I have a minor problem like a sinus infection, get my antibiotic and go home. An office visit there is $65 and they don’t even shame me when I say I don’t have any insurance – in fact, they go out of their way to keep my costs down since I’m paying out of pocket.

I think we all need to become CEOs of our own personal healthcare. We need to assemble an interdisciplinary team that’s unique to us and hold them to a high standard. You wouldn’t keep using a plumber who always shows up late and can never seem to fix the problem, why would you tolerate that behavior from a healthcare provider?

There are plenty of people left in the world who are happy with mediocre and don’t want to take an active role in their health or their healthcare. Let them have the doctors who are closed-minded to new things and consider themselves omnipotent. There are enough quality people out there to choose from if you look hard enough.

And, yes, even some traditionally trained, modern MDs can have a clue. There are more and more of them out there every day. They’re still the minority and will likely be for a while still, but they are out there. You just have to look and not settle.

You Need to Screen Well…

I’ve seen as many lousy alternative health practitioners as I have regular medical doctors. The solution to our healthcare problems isn’t to avoid medical doctors in every circumstance and only see an “alternative” person like a Naturopath.

Unfortunately, every discipline has it’s own set of standard procedures and practices now. And, I think the dismal state of health so many are in is an indication that very little is working in ANY of the existing systems. You can’t treat diseases of lifestyle with nutritional supplements – no matter how exotic – any more than you can treat them with drugs.

Even the Paleo diet isn’t the solution to every health problem known to modern man. There. I said it.

Virtually any mental health practitioner you go to is going to diagnose you with depression sooner or later. That’s all they have. Sometimes, they’ll diagnose you with anxiety first, prescribe Xanax or another benzo and, when the side effects of the Xanax have had enough time to build up and you become depressed and have difficulty concentrating, you get the depression diagnosis and an anti-depressant anyway. If you really struggle to concentrate, you can get an ADD diagnosis on top of it all and get some Adderall. The Adderall can make you MORE depressed and anxious and all three meds can battle it out in your body and make you more and more miserable.

“Inexplicably,” genuine, normal anxiety over significant life stresses can morph into full-blown mental illness with all these drugs in the mix. And the drug and therapy merry-go-round can go into full swing.

The above is the “conservative” approach to psych medicine. Nothing conservative about it except the ideology that underlies it and the resistance to change. Mention Medical Marijuana to the same doc who has you on Xanax, Adderall and an anti-depressant and you’ll likely be warned what a “dangerous drug” marijuana is. WTF?

My point in all this is that it’s really, really easy to get sucked in to a big mess if you let modern medicine run unchecked in your life. YOU need to be the CEO of Your Health, Inc. and make sure you’re directing your care and questioning providers. This goes for modern practitioners, alternative, holistic and everywhere in between. Yes, you can even visit a psychic crystal healer – as long as she’s a good one and you’re seeing tangible results…

Integrative Medicine…

This is the mass, mainstream medical establishment tacking on some massage or acupuncture to regular, pills and scalpels medicine. Most conventionally trained doctors have a somewhat tolerant attitude toward “alternative therapies.” The attitude usually being “It won’t help, but it can’t really hurt…”

The mass healthcare market tacked on this integrative thing because it was what the market wanted. They’re still doing the same medicine, but having someone come in and give you Reike after your surgery lets them pretend they’re being progressive and “integrative.”

“Please don’t dress up your general and pretend it’s particular. It’s not. When you do that, you’re not catering to the weird, you’re defending mass in any way you can.”

– Seth Godin

The “New” Integrative Medicine…

I think the path to real health and healing in the 21st century is to integrate medicine and medical care ourselves. We’re consumers and we’re living in the most abundant and connected world in human history. We can find people in any discipline to help us if we put in the time and effort to really look.

Yes, this can be costly and time-consuming, but healthcare is one of the biggest expenses of  our society anyway. Why not spend our dollars where they count for us AND for those providing exceptional service and exceptional results.

Going to the doctor down the street – because you’re sick and he accepts your insurance – isn’t the path to the best healthcare you can find.

Focus on prevention, focus on finding the best of the best – before you need them desperately – and spend your dollars in ways that support what you believe in. You don’t buy dollar steaks at Walmart because you don’t want to support factory farming and Big Ag. Don’t go to doctors who don’t get results and see you as just another patient who needs a lifetime of meds.

“Consumers have more power than ever before. What a shame it would be if all we used it for was to get a Whopper for a few pennies less.”

– Seth Godin

Modern medicine doesn’t need to go away, it just needs to evolve. So does alternative and everything in between. Vote with your dollars. You’re a consumer.




Cancer-Gate book by Samuel Epstein, MD


Check out the great book “Cancer-Gate: How to Win the Losing Cancer War” by Samuel S. Epstein, MD, It delves into the politics, conspiracies and cover-ups in modern medicine, cancer research and cancer societies. Very eye-opening.

And, this video. “Run from the Cure” details the attitude of the medical, law enforcement and political establishments toward anything that might actually be helping the people who need help.


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Feelings are Warnings…

A Cubicle Farm

It was 2004 and I was having another negative interaction with my boss. I was working for my third failing biotech company in a row, in the failing economy, and I was surrounded by unhappy, negative, unhealthy people.

I needed a raise. I deserved a raise. I was more than a year overdue for a raise. I was underpaid for my position and experience. Again, it was a flat, unapologetic “No.”

His reasoning – this time – for not helping me get paid what I was actually worth? I was “very sick” and the medical insurance the company was giving me actually amounted to a big “raise” because of the doctor and prescription bills I was now accumulating.

He said I really couldn’t afford to rock the boat because I was dependant on the company for the insurance due to my illness.

This was where I first saw the pure evil of the system I had let myself get suckered into. I was sick, exhausted from stress and company politics and living paycheck to paycheck to pay a mortgage. I was also severely depressed and had just been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.

The job and the company was making me sick. And then they’re telling me I need them because I’m sick?!?!?!

I was so exhausted I was numb.

I went back and collapsed at my desk and thought: “I’m going to die in this building, at this desk, if I don’t do something.”

There were other warnings too…

Another now-defunct biotech company I worked for was, ironically, right next door to the World Gym that I spent my happiest and most productive training years at. I used to go outside for a breath of fresh air around 10am – stressed and exhausted already – and look over at the gym. Four years ago I’d have been pulling into the gym parking lot around 10am – rested, happy, healthy and ready to kill another workout.

Now I was looking out at that gym and those memories from an exhausted body, from a dysfunctional and abusive corporate hell.

I’d have to go inside before I got too depressed about where I was now. I was in a miserable job. I had a psychotic girlfriend and a dysfunctional relationship. I had a big mortgage on a big, new house that was already falling apart. I was feeling the beginnings of the digestive illness I would later get slammed by.

And I had zero motivation or energy to pursue my passion for physical training.

Negative Feelings are Warnings…

Stress, depression, unhappiness, anxiety. These are all feelings that evolved to warn us of danger. They tell us to get away and get away fast. They make us uncomfortable for a reason.

But the current idea is that we need to “manage” these feelings. We manage them by medicating them away or just “sucking it up” because “that’s life.” Sometimes we go to a therapist who “listens to and validates” us.

But feelings like stress, depression, unhappiness and anxiety are deep, primal reactions and they serve a purpose. So does getting a stomach ache when you eat 20 Milky Way bars. It tells you to avoid doing that again.

Our bodies and emotional systems are highly intelligent and evolved. They know better than our thinking mind does. They aren’t conditioned by pop culture propaganda like our thinking mind.

But the overwhelming message from modern culture is that TV and magazines and doctors and pills and corporations are smart and our bodies and feelings and emotions are dumb.

Xanax: A Love Story New York Magazine Cover

Take the insanity below. The Contributing Editor of New York Magazine wrote a flagship article about how great Xanax is. Then she goes on TV to talk about it.

The message: Our bodies are wrong. Working a high-stress job and living a high-stress life is right. Medicate away the natural reaction of your body and emotions to an artificial modern environment. (I rant long and hard about the article and Xanax here.)

I’m going to propose a different option. Get out and get out now.

If you’re stressed and exhausted you need a new set of options and a new path. If you’re sick, what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been living is obviously not working. If you’re not sick (yet), you’re blessed because our world and modern lifestyles are out of control. What the mainstream considers food, medical care and appropriate exercise is becoming more and more dysfunctional by the day.

Change. Grow, Evolve.

In 2004, I was sick BECAUSE of the stress of my career and the negative and toxic environments I was working in. Just like I’m healthy in 2012 because I learned how to eat and train and live to nurture my body instead of beat it down.

But I “needed” those jobs for the insurance. So I could keep running to doctors and hospitals and having tests and getting prescriptions. The couple of times I ended up in the hospitol the doctors would actually ask me when I needed to be back to work – the goal was to get me well enough to get back to my desk on the job’s schedule and the insurance company’s schedule.

My body’s schedule was never consulted.

Essentially, I was being set up to stay sick. Returning to the environment and lifestyle that made me sick in the first place as soon as my symptoms were temporarily medicated down was only going to keep me sick. I’m not sure this is an actual conspiracy – but I’m not sure it isn’t either.

What’s funny – or tragic – is that, when I finished college in 2000, all I wanted to do is train and write about training online. The world – and my consciousness – wasn’t in a place where that was entirely possible back then. In 2012 I’m doing exactly what I wanted to be doing when I got out of college.

Sometimes it makes me sad or angry that I wasted all those years being miserable and sick when I could have started writing and training again right out of college in 2000. Maybe I needed that time and those experiences to strengthen my resolve to live the way I want to live now. That’s what I tell myself.

Your life, your health and your happiness are too precious to throw away doing things that make you miserable and being around people who make you stressed and sick.

All the Xanax in the world won’t make you feel better if you’re ignoring your soul’s calling and living in stress. Do whatever it takes to get out.

Working against your body, your emotions, your deeper, better judgement and your Soul’s Calling is a dead end.

In 2004, I was looking for a raise. It took me a few more years to stop looking for raises and start looking for the Exit.



BTW, You can read my full story here: “My Personal Journey to Paleo.”


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Surviving in Our Age of Digital Distraction…

Someone is Wrong on the Internet Cat

Slaying the Digital Dragon…

No, I’m not getting into computer games. I’m not turning into a World of Warcraft nerd. What I am doing is making a stand against the “non-Paleo-ness” of the modern world. I can’t stand it anymore and I’m leaving the building…

On an evolutionary note, you could think of it this way: Our world has changed dramatically and permanently with the proliferation of digital devices, communication and social media. It will never be like it was and we have no idea what it will be like in 3, 5 or 10 years. If you buy into the whole evolution thing, it makes sense that there will be those of us who learn, grow and adapt to the changing environment and those of us who don’t. We’re talking survival of the fittest and adaptation to environment here – and you can argue that the stakes have never been higher. (For a fascinating look at what the technological revolution and evolution we’re living in means, check out the book “What Technology Wants” by Kevin Kelly.)

The Age of Digital Distraction…

I’ve been losing my mind lately. I’ve been working harder and harder and stressing more and more – and getting less done than ever. Over the past few weeks, I finally got some perspective – thanks to Leo Babauta and Steven Pressfield – and could finally see that my constant “busy-ness” was producing virtually nothing of any real value to me or anyone else.

Worse, I wasn’t really progressing toward my goals and the lifestyle I wanted. And, even worse than that, my physical and emotional health was beginning to backslide just a bit. Not the direction I want things to be going in and definitely the “canary in the coal mine” as far as the future my current actions and habits were creating.

“If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?”

 – Douglas Adams

I talked a lot about digital distraction and the mess we’re in in my post “You Can’t Have it All – And You Don’t Want It All Anyway…” In that post, I laid out the fallacy we’re sold in the modern world about “having it all” and how we’re trying to have it all and having less and less of what we want the more we try.

My current goal is to have only a very few things that I’m engaged in – but very important, meaningful and compelling things.

I talked in depth about my goals for the coming year in “You Can’t Have it All – And You Wouldn’t Want It All Anyway…” and “Time’s Up! Are You a Professional or an Amateur?” The rest of this post explains the way I’m going to accomplish those goals…

Experiments in (Paleo) Lifestyle Design…

Tim Ferris’ tagline on his blog is: “Experiments in Lifestyle Design.” (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/). What I’m focusing on here are “Experiments in Paleo Lifestyle Design.”

Just like our bodies didn’t evolve to thrive on technologically produced and molested food and hour-long treadmill workouts while watching a TV, our body, mind and spirit didn’t evolve to be inundated by information, requests, emails, tweets, texts and updates 24/7 across multiple digital devices.

Trying to create outstanding health while under this barrage of digital information is likely just as ignorant as trying to build outstanding health while eating McDonald’s or walking on a treadmill and watching a TV…

Intellectual understanding is nice, but nothing really happens until you put things into practice. My blog is Practical Paleolithic after all, so actually making this all work in the real world is important.

Intellectualizing is nice, but mental masturbation can only take you so far – then you have to actually ACT. This is where 99.9% of people miss the boat…

So this is where the “experiments” part of “Experiments in Paleo Lifestyle Design” comes from and it’s where the “practical” in “Practical Paleolithic” comes from.

Here’s what I’m going to do…

I’m going on a serious Social Media and Digital fast. That’s right. A fast. I’m prioritizing my writing and my training. My health and my work come first. The rest comes second or not at all.

(BTW, this absolutely does NOT mean I won’t ever be online again – or that I don’t love and value EVERY SINGLE person who I’m connected to online. It’s just that the constant pointing and clicking and tweeting and chatting is beginning to erode my health and sanity :-))

Slaying the Email Monster…

I’ll attempt to check my email every day, but that won’t always happen. I’ll check it every other day at a minimum – and I mean ONCE in that period. ONCE…

I’ll reply to the important emails as soon as I can and I’ll que up the others to be responded to as I’m able. That’s it. I’m going to shoot for an hour every day or two for email and THAT’S IT. I’ll have to work on being OK with letting some of them slide.

If you think I’m nuts, think about this:

There was a resent study done by the University of California Irvine and The US Army on the effects of email “vacations” that showed email caused workers to change screens twice as often as those who didn’t have access to email. Those with access to email were in a “steady state of high alert” with constantly elevated heart rates. Those removed from email access for 5 days experienced a more natural and variable heart rate.

Can you say CORTISOL?

And, while you’re at it, think about this:

If your email program checks for new email every 5 minutes – and you haven’t turned off the “new email alert” option – you’re getting interrupted about 96 times in an 8 hour day. That’s NOT including interruptions by text message, Facebook, Twitter, etc. ON TOP of that number.

(Both of the above are from an article in the August 2012 Macworld. There’s a revolution going on currently where highly innovative companies are focusing on seriously minimizing or entirely avoiding email. You can read about what’s going on with this topic in the August 2012 Macworld issue.)

You’re getting beeped and bleeped at by an electronic device a few hundred times a day most likely… How Paleo is THAT?!?!?!?!

While most of this new and expanding thinking about avoiding email is aimed toward improving productivity, my purpose is really toward improving my health, mental state and thinking quality. Yes, I want to become more productive at producing work that matters, but the real aim for me is to improve my health, healing and training. (And,further, I believe that producing more work that matters will improve my health as well…)

Paleo Internet and Social Media – Web 0.0

I’m a huge fan of social media. I love what the social web has done for the world in general and me in particular. But enough is enough.

For quite a while now, I’ve been experiencing worse and worse anxiety, lack of focus and distraction. And I’ve been getting very little of my important life’s purpose-level work done. Yes, I had seen the latest boob-centric hilarity posted by my dear old friend Wild Gorillaman and I’ve seen about 30 of the newest “You Can Do It! Rah! Rah! Rah!” motivational slogan pictures that were circulating this past hour on Facebook, but as for truly important WORK, I was accomplishing very little and seriously spiking my cortisol while I was doing it. Or, not doing it as the case may have been…

It's Not Ectoplasm Red Head Ghostbusters

Where this All Came From…

Last week this all reached a peak when I got up, sat with my fresh-ground organic coffee, did some reading, listened to the birds, felt the sun coming in on the porch… And proceeded to turn on the computer and start checking email and Facebooking and feel my calm focus fade. My heart started beating more rapidly, my thoughts started racing and, next thing I knew, I had 50 browser windows open and an absolute glut of things I just “had to” read and “had to” do and “had to” reply to.

Within about a half an hour, I was stressed, overwhelmed, had added about 80 things to my to-do list for the day, felt hopeless and out of control and had ZERO desire to write and create. Oh, and my stomach had started bothering me…


I’ll still be on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, but I’ll be sharing my own content a lot more and making more infrequent – but more meaningful – contributions on there. I’ll be engaging in a lot less time wasting.

It’s Not Just Me…

Yeah, I might just be some crazy anomaly. But I’m not. In the past few years there’s been a massive increase in books and programs and blogs and whatever else related to dealing with this incredible digital stimulation and information glut that’s exploding around us.

There’s more opportunity to create and learn and grow and explore and contribute in this new age of ours, but there’s also more opportunity than ever to get buried under an avalanche of to-do lists, irrelevant nonsense and requests for your time and attention that you could never, ever complete no matter what you did.

Taking a New Path…

My personal approach is going to be dual approach. On the one hand, I’ll practice “selective ignorance” as Tim Ferris calls it in “The Four Hour Work Week” and I’ll work to focus on the absolute minimum of things. But those things will be those that are the most important – as Leo Babauta talks about in “The Power of Less.”

At the same time, I’ll leverage technology and use “systems and software” as advocated by guys like David Allen (“Getting Things Done”), Michael Linenberger (Master Your Workday Now!) and David Sparks (macsparky.com).

What I WON’T do – anymore – is point and click and stress and check and tweet and run in circles endlessly like a douchebag and get almost nothing done after 12 hours on the computer. Those days are now over.

My goal is that all my online friends will see more focused, meaningful, relevant and ground-breaking new work from me. That alone will make me happier. And the lower stress lifestyle I’m experimenting with will likely help as well.

Stay tuned. There’s some cool new stuff coming!




Here’s a really funny post about how silly us Paleo types are at times…

A Day in The Life of a Paleo Warrior!

Bonus Number 2…

If the stuff I’m talking about in this post are interesting to you and you’d like to pursue more on them, here are the books I’d highly recommend you check out:

“The Power of Less” – Leo Babauta

“The Four Hour Work Week” – Tim Ferriss

“Getting Things Done” – David Allen

“Control Your Workday Now” – Michael Linenberger

David Sparks’ Screencast Series on the Omnifocus software

“The War of Art” – Steven Pressfield

“Turning Pro” – Steven Pressfield

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It’s Broken…

Seth Godin is a really smart guy. At least I think so. A few other people do to, which is why he’s one of the top business authors out there.

Seth’s ideas are decidedly different, though. He writes little stream-of-consciousness books with names like “Purple Cow,” “Poke the Box,” “We Are All Weird” and “Tribes.” And he says things that tend to upset the status quo pretty regularly. That’s why I like him. It’s also why the stuff he says make a lot of people REALLY uncomfortable.

Here he is saying some profound stuff about the future of pretty much everything we know. It’s good news or bad news depending on which side of the fence you sit…

A lot of the things he says don’t just apply to business. They apply to other important things too. If you’re sitting on our side of the fence – the Paleo, ancestral health, functional movement, healthy living side – the stuff Seth talks about is good news.

The Industrial Revolution is Over…

What does it mean that the Industrial Revolution is over? For us fringe wackos (I embrace being a fringe wacko…), it means that we can connect with each other and share ideas and insights and information. It also means that we can amplify our ideas and our voice and make an impact. That wasn’t possible 20 years ago – at least, it wasn’t as easy as it is now…

The Assembly Line and the Factory System…

As the Industrial Revolution ends, I think we can start to see some of the absurdity in applying the ideas of interchangeable parts – and interchangeable people – to, well, everything… It’s like that old saying about the hammer: “If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

A Factory Assembly Line

The Assembly Line model applied to… An Assembly Line.

A Ford Assembly Line

The Assembly Line model applied to… Cars.

Rows of desks in a public school

The Assembly Line ideal applied to… Education.

A Cubicle Farm

The Assembly Line applied to… Work.

A Planet Fitness Cardio Area

The Assembly Line model applied to… Working out.

The Assembly Line applied too… Coaching.


A medical "Assembly Line" in the 50s

The Assembly Line idea applied to… Medicine.


Feedlot Cattle

The Assembly Line applied to… Farming.

McDonald's Burger Assembly

The Assembly Line ideal applied to… Food.

I could continue, I’m sure, but I think you get the picture…

So, where’s the problem?

The problem is, YOUR BODY ISN’T A MACHINE! It’s just NOT!

As the Industrial Age unfolded, here’s how some were thinking about the human body – and I’ll argue that this is how we got into the health mess we’re currently in…

The Body as a Machine

Fritz Kahn Body as Machine

You can admire the use of metaphor and the observation of similarities and connections in Kahn’s work, but I also think it needs to be taken for what it was – idealizing of the Industrial Age. And that’s an age that’s not applicable to where and who were are as a world, as a species and as living beings. At least not anymore…

Leave it to the Germans to systematize and “mechanize” the systems of the body into mechanical processes, huh? Sigh…

What IS the mess we’re in?

We’re in a big mess. I’ll ignore the economy and business stuff for now and just focus on our health and our body, mind and spirit.

The Medical Establishment is all about “The Factory.” You have a huge building with a a bunch of expensive machines, a Standard Operating Procedure for EVERYTHING and a cookie-cutter, factory-processing approach to it all. This disease gets this medicine, that disease gets that one. If you’re depressed it means your brain is broken. If you have a digestive disorder its not related to what you eat and take this pill. It goes on and on and IT’S INSANE. And, God forbid your illness doesn’t fit into a neat little box and a have an appropriate Standard Operating Procedure for its treatment…

So few doctors are doing “art” right now. Art as in, seeing the patient as a human being instead of an unrelated collection of “parts” that are working or broken. And, what’s happening? More and more people are tossing the old model and going more and more for alternative therapies.

Medicine is in a “Race to the Bottom” AND a “Race to the Top.” At the top will be the doctors who actually care and see people as people and not a collection of mechanical “stuff” to be manipulated by drugs and surgery only. At the bottom will be more of the same – 10 minute office visits, insurance ruled treatment, more and more pills and procedures and less and less health. And, of course, diet won’t have anything to do with any of it…

Here’s a rant I wrote a few weeks ago regarding a New York Magazine article talking up Xanax as some great wonder drug for our times…

The point is, we need to – and we WILL – be returning to simpler and, at the same time, more complex treatments and models for medicine, healing and the body. We’re already seeing this happening and it will continue…

What’s Next…

We’ve systematized the crap out of everything. We “won” that race to the bottom and we’re paying the price – we have fake, assembly line food, ineffective, assembly line medical care, assembly line globo-gyms…

But, everywhere, small things are growing and thriving. A single person with a blog can change everything. Small and local can now have global reach. It’s all flipped upside down – the “big guys” are spending more and more and being listened to less and less and the “little guys” are spending virtually no money and shaping a new world.

If Seth Godin is right – and I have a feeling he is 😉 – we’ve entered the era of the “artist:”

Making Art

“My definition of art contains three elements:

  1. Art is made by a human being.
  2. Art is created to have an impact, to change someone else.
  3. Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording… but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.

By my definition, most art has nothing to do with oil paint or marble. Art is what we’re doing when we do our best work.”

– Seth Godin

Small is the New Big…

“Small is the New Big” is yet another book by Seth Godin. He coined the term and here’s how I think it’s going to play out in our little corner of the health and training sphere as the 21st Century unfolds:

The small, artisan warehouse-style gym will continue to become more and more important and influential…

CrossFit was the main force in popularizing the non-gym gym for sure. But you can see how CrossFit HQ has become a lot more “assembly-line like” in the past few years – churning out more CrossFit gyms, more Level 1 trainers, more, more, more – and at an ever lower quality. Thus, the backlash in the community and the defection of many of the best and brightest – the artisans – in the CrossFit community.

The warehouse gym and the one-of-a-kind trainers – the ones who care and are passionate about what they do and who would do it whether they got paid or not – will continue to expand and thrive.

These artisans will continue to create their art – many under the CrossFit banner and many not…

And CrossFit will continue its race to the bottom as it churns out more and more trainers, more and more gyms and more and more injuries… (I talked about some of the issues with the CrossFit/Reebok thing in this blog post: “CrossFit Goes Globo-Gym.”)

A Warehouse Gym

Small, Local Food Producers Will Thrive and Grow…

Farmer's Market

More and more, the smaller operations will thrive. It will be more about the “art” of our foods and those who grow and produce it.

And, Niche Ideas and Niche Publications Will Thrive…

Despite the cries about journalism being dead, there are lots and lots of new niche ideas and journalism spreading. Paleo Magazine is doing great and so are other niche publications like RECOIL and New Pioneer Magazine.

More writing, resources and communities around more and more niche, heretical and revolutionary ideas…

Paleo Magazine Cover

Speaking of Niche Ideas…

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

– Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860)
I’d like to go on record as saying that Paleo – or, more accurately, an “Evolutionary Perspective” on health, healing and life – will be THE lens we view all things health and wellness through in 10 years if not 3-5 years. There. I said it…

Everything We Care About Will Get Smaller – and Better…

As the mainstream of everything continues to race to the bottom – and smaller niche ideas that had it right for a while try to race to the mainstream and lose what innovation they had – we’ll see more and more niches open up. More revolutionary ideas, more niche products we love, more and more of less and less and smaller and smaller distinctions.

For now, let’s stop thinking of the body – and our care for it – as something we can mechanize, replicate and write down in a manual. Let’s approach or body and our health from the standpoint of artists and lets find and support the artisans who can help us in that…




Here’s a Bonus…

Here’s more Seth Godin. This is one of the best talks I’ve heard from him in a while. It’s long, but worth a watch if you like his message…

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Crack is the New Yoga???

Xanax: A Love Story New York Magazine Cover

I don’t know if popular culture is getting more and more idiotic or if I’m just becoming more and more aware of the idiocy that was already there. Maybe it’s a little of both…

If you do nothing else, watch the short video above (less than 5 minutes).

“Xanax is a solution?!?!?!?!”


Pill-Popping Modern Culture…

I have a morbid fascination with an article like “Xanax: A Love Story” in a popular periodical like New York Magazine. I actually thought the article would be funny. Sadly, it was more an “ode to Xanax” and could definitely be used in a promo package for benzo drugs…

Here’s a modern and popular magazine – based in New York City no less (How stressful is living THERE???)  – with an article about how great benzo drugs are written by a self-described skeptic of approaches like “Mindfulness Mediation” for dealing with stress. (BTW, formally called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and championed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and others at the UMass School of Medicine, MBSR has tons of successful clinical research to prove it’s effectiveness in improving and treating depression and anxiety.)

Regarding Mindfulness Mediation the author says:

“…I am suspicious of any cure that requires more effort and expense on my part and more hours away from my work…”

Sigh… Personally, I’m suspicious of any approach that DOESN’T require effort on my part and facilitates “getting back to the cubicle, keyboard and computer screen” with nary a thought about long-term health consequences, lifestyle choices or whether the Grande Red-Eye Frappuccino from Starbucks and stress-ridden subway trip to work had anything to do with my symptoms of anxiety…

The Drugging of America and the Taming of the Human Animal…

It seems that, more and more, drugs are being promoted as “solutions.” Worried about your job being outsourced? Take a pill. Stressed about the 6 mortgages on your house? There’s a pill for that. That Value Meal from McDonald’s making your stomach feel bad? There’s a pill for that. Overweight? We have a pill for that too.

House attached to a debt ball and chain

I actually have a VERY positive outlook for our world, our environment, our society, our health and the human race in general. But I don’t think we’ll get there without a fight and a good part of that fight is with this attitude of medicating away our primal drives, instincts and desires.

Obese Ronald McDonald sculpture by Ron English


From the excellent book “Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There from Here” by Bruce H. Lipton and Steve Bhaerman:

“In lieu of focusing on the crisis, we are encouraged to addictions and distractions conveniently placed to keep us preoccupied and passive. But reality keeps intervening. Everything in the world seems to be rolling toward some inexorable, beyond-our-control crisis.”

– Bruce H. Lipton and Steve Bhaerman

And, in the outstanding book “The War of Art,” Pressfield says:

“When we drug ourselves to blot out our soul’s call, we are being good Americans and exemplary consumers. We’re doing exactly what TV commercials and pop materialist culture have been brainwashing us to do since birth. Instead of applying self-knowledge, self-discipline, delayed gratification and hard work, we simply consume a product.”

That all sums it up well, doesn’t it?


Who WOULDN’T be stressed out working here?


A sea of cubicles in an office

Especially working with her. (Or, for her)…


Lisa Miller from New York Magazine

And with THIS to look forward to every morning as your commute…



I guess the major thing that gets me fired up here is that complacency is the common denominator. You see that a lot with anything “Old Economy.” It’s a case of “The Establishment” dispensing information that helps us “manage” our feelings about a situation as opposed to taking a fresh look at the situation and seeing what can be changed. It’s the type of thinking that has print journalists screaming and crying about “the death of journalism” when they’re really just confused about what journalism actually is. Much better to take a pill (or a “cocktail” of pills) – prescribed by your doctor and endorsed by the Medical Establishment of course – and spend a few hours in therapy every week lamenting the death of whatever industry you’re in and how bad the economy is as opposed to embracing the emerging technology and opportunity all around us.

Seth Godin said it best in his post, “But who will speak for the trees?

“Defenders of the status quo at newspapers, book publishers and the magazine industry are in a panic. Some are even misguidedly asking for government regulation or a bailout.

All three industries are doomed (if doomed means that they will be unrecognizable in ten–probably three–years). And yet…

And yet there’s no shortage of writing, or things to read. No shortage of news, either. And there doesn’t appear to be one on the horizon. In fact, there’s more news, more images and more writing available to more people more often than ever before in history.

No, just about all of the whining is about protecting paper, the stuff the ideas are printed on, not the ideas themselves.

It’s paper that makes the economics of the newspaper industry work (or not work). It’s paper that creates cost and slows things down and generates scarcity. And scarcity is what they sell.

It’s paper that makes the book industry what it is. As soon as you remove paper from the equation, the costs change, the timing changes, the barriers to entry change, the risk changes. And defenders of the status quo don’t like change.”

The Defenders of the Status Quo Don’t Like Change…

From Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”

Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.

Any establishment doesn’t like lean, hungry men or women who think too much. Much better to keep them stressed and focused on the “latest and loudest” with a physician-endorsed addiction or two to keep them calm, complacent, fat and cozy…

What Do These Two Images Have in Common?

(This image is from the New York Magazine Xanax article…)

Diagram from New York Magazine Xanax Article

If you said: “Neither situation depicted is anything remotely similar to situations we evolved to handle well during the greater part of our evolution.” you get a gold star! Or, maybe a strip of bacon…

I guess what really got me going on this topic was the positive spin the New York Magazine article put on sedatives like Xanax. It was just another version of the same old thing – modern technology and life causes a problem and we use MORE technology to “fix” the problem. Except, the technology doesn’t fix the problem it just lets us ignore the problem a little longer.

I guess, if you’re living in New York City and writing for a print publication like New York Magazine you’re going to have a bias – by nature or nurture – toward living a life that’s more toward the stressful end of the spectrum. I guess that’s fine if you REALLY like it, but I can’t help wondering what kind of a life you’re living if you need an occasional sedative to deal with it. 

As Lisa said at the end of the article:

“I want tranquility once in a while. But I don’t want a tranquil life.”

-Lisa Miller

That’s her choice. I once felt that way too. It wasn’t until I learned through first hand and painful experience how unhealthy and unsustainable a “busy” and “fast-paced” lifestyle really is. (If you want to know more about the life I used to live and how I ended up writing a Paleo and fitness blog and Paleo books for a living, you can check out my post: “My Personal Journey to Paleo.”)

It’s not how people live that bothers me – it’s the cultural and societal compulsion to live that way and the twisting and obscuring of facts that might make a difference in how people approach their lives that bothers the hell out of me…

Live how you want if you’re going to make an informed choice about it. But if you’re living a stress-ridden and caffeine fueled life because you don’t know any better or think that’s how you’re “supposed to” live because that’s what popular culture is telling you, then THAT’S a problem…

But, I think it’s irresponsible to offer things like Xanax to people as a cure or “solution” to the very natural feelings of anxiety and impending doom a human being would experience under any of the following conditions:

  • Living in New York City
  • Working for a print publication
  • Likely drinking a ton of coffee – most writers and journalists do
  • Working in the mainstream print media industry (the mainstream side of print media is rapidly declining even though journalism has never been healthier or more alive…)
  • Doing silly things like watching network news and reading the skewed stuff that’s getting written in the mainstream printed media
  • Working anywhere that there are cubicles and fluorescent lights


Crack is the New Yoga???

Suzon from Season 11 of A&E's Intervention

I’ve written about how much I like the A&E show “Intervention” before. Last week, I was watching the episode with Suzon who’s a Crack addict. At one point, I think they said she spends $1000 A WEEK on crack. There’s one point in the show where she’s talking about how great Crack is and how it makes her feel. She says something to the effect of “It’s like I just finished a Yoga class and am coming out of Shavasana.” My thought when she said that was: “WTF!?!? Why don’t you just do Yoga then???” Personally, I’d do the yoga and stash the $1000 a week…

Yeah, I’d be less stressed with an extra grand a week…

I’m not trying to make light of Suzon’s plight or the trauma she’s been through, but it’s beyond me that you could compare smoking Crack to that “Blissed-Out” after-yoga feeling and not stop and think maybe yoga is a better alternative…

A Head on a Stick Moving from One Computer Terminal to Another…

As Frank Forencich describes in the EXCELLENT video below, modern culture approaches the body as merely a transport mechanism to get the head from one meeting to another and one computer screen to another.

“Bring the body back into modern life…”

– Frank Forencich


I think there are two broad categories of reactions to the Frank Forencich video above:

  1. “Right on, man!”
  2. “Yeah, that’s great – unless you live in the real world…”


It’s a Matter of Perspective…

Being that I talk to a lot of people about eating and living Paleo, I tend to hear the same things over and over. There are always those people who “have something wrong with them” and have to eat “special” cookies and cake and bread and cereal and milk and whatever else.

The bottom line with these people is a simple assumption – they’re assuming that Standard American Diet “foods” are actually food. Of course, the truth is, this stuff is just highly processed, industrialized garbage. You can make garbage out of buckwheat or amaranth or whatever other grain or pseudo-grain you want, but it’s STILL garbage.

As soon as you shift to a Paleo perspective and realize meat, fruit and vegetables are where it’s at, all the issues about “special” foods and label reading go away. It’s the same with lifestyle issues and anxiety. You can live a high stress, screwy lifestyle with minimal exercise and lots of modern electronic stimulation and assume you have an “anxiety disorder” just as easily as you can have coffee and a donut, Eggbeaters and a bagel or an Ensure shake for breakfast every morning and talk about the “digestive disorder” you’ve been inexplicably cursed with.

I’d propose that, just as bagels, cake, cookies and other processed crap isn’t food, rushing from meeting to meeting, sitting all day in a cubicle doing a stressful job, then in a car or on a subway and then on the couch in front of the TV isn’t really a life. If you start with the assumption that Modern Life is “normal” then, yes, you’ll “have stuff wrong with you” that makes living in the modern world difficult and you’ll likely need more “modern wonders” in the form of drugs and other technologies to function. And, an “active” lifestyle doesn’t mean you watch TV on the treadmill at the gym instead of on the couch either, so don’t even go there…

Just as modern “foods” aren’t food, I think much of modern “life” isn’t life. Drugging yourself to help deal with your life – that likely needs a major overhaul – is just as silly in my opinion as drugging yourself so you can tolerate and digest processed modern foods…

What’s the Big Deal with Xanax?

The big deal with Xanax is that the shit is MASSIVELY addictive. If you don’t believe me, google “Xanax addiction” and take a look at a few of the hundreds of thousands of results you get. Be sure and read some of the horror stories of people who got addicted to it and had to battle their way back. When you’re taking a medication for stress it just sort of adds another stress to your life when you have to deal with overcoming an addiction besides…

Why do I care?

About two years ago when I began the long and stressful process of untangling myself from the obligation-filled, stress-ridden mess that my life had become – thanks to my “prestigious corporate career,” big house and position as a “productive member of society” (another definition of “productive member of society” could be “mule hooked up to a debt-cart” or “cubicle prisoner”) – the therapist I was seeing was playing it fast and loose with the prescription pad…

Now, I’m not saying that a little Xanax wasn’t a welcomed help in my life at the time – it definitely helped me get to sleep and got me through some of the massively stressful situations I was dealing with almost daily – but no one told me how addictive or high in side-effects the stuff was – especially at the metric shit-ton dosage I was given. It wasn’t till I was talking to my friend Jodi, a PA, that I found out the 4mg daily dosage I had been prescribed – right out of the gate – was a HUGE dosage that she’d never seen outside of a mental institution setting.

So, while I was popping Xanax like Pez candies (as prescribed I might add…), I was wondering why I was getting more and more depressed, more and more anxious and even starting to experience symptoms of Agoraphobia, my therapist never mentioned that these were ALL side effects of the Xanax. His solution? Add an antidepressant to the Xanax…

The monkey makes it Paleo, right?

And, no, using a gorilla Pez dispenser doesn’t make Xanax Paleo… 😉

So… Needless to say, I’m no longer addicted to Xanax, no longer taking anti-depressants and no longer seeing that therapist…

Two Rapidly Diverging Cultures…

Something I find really interesting is how quickly “Paleo Culture” is spreading throughout the world and how many of us are diverging from Modern Culture and the stress-driven, quick-fix mindset. To borrow Seth Godin’s term, Modern Culture is in a “race to the bottom.” The bottom of health, the bottom of job stress, the bottom of everything (by “bottom” I mean it’s getting worse and more intense).

It’s racing toward a dead end and more and more people are realizing that and jumping into “alternative” camps – be that Paleo instead of the Standard American Diet, CrossFit instead of weight machines and treadmills, blogging instead of paper-based journalism, holistic healing instead of pills and the Medical Establishment, Mac instead of PC and on and on. It’s not that Modern or Popular Culture is “doomed” it’s just that more and more people are seeing the light – in large part because of the internet and the speed at which information travels – and jumping ship.

So, while the “traditional” and old economy pundits are talking doom and gloom, a terrible job market, blaming everything on the economy and crying “not enough money, not enough jobs, not enough time, not enough sleep, not enough, not enough, not enough…” there are niche publications, movements, ideas and communities springing up EVERYWHERE and THRIVING…

Yes, I guess staying on the Titanic, fighting over deck chairs with fellow passengers as it sinks and taking Xanax to feel better about the whole situation is an option, I just don’t think it’s the only option and promoting it as such gets me a bit cranky…

Speaking of Caffeine…

What’s really interesting to me is that, while New York Magazine is talking about this increase in anxiety within our culture and the increase of anti-anxiety medication prescriptions, there’s another increase happening – just about in direct proportion – a rapid increase in the consumption of coffee and caffeine products. Like the video above says: “Every day is a 5 Hour Energy day!” (BTW, one of the times I watched the YouTube video of the Lisa Miller interview, the advertisement before the video was actually FOR 5 Hour Energy!)

The reason this is so interesting to me is that virtually all the classic anxiety symptoms are also primary effects or side effects of medium to high caffeine consumption. Racing thoughts, anxiety, inability to sleep, inability to focus, rapid heart beat and on and on…

The last time I passed through NYC, there were more coffee and caffeine outlets and products being offered than I could count and there only slightly fewer sugar and grain products around. I wonder if that could possibly have something to do with all this…

BTW, if you want a fascinating and very well-documented and well-researched read on the myriad effects of caffeine on all aspects of health, check out “Caffeine Blues” by Stephen Cherniske.

Caffeine Blues by Stephen Cherniske, M.S.

Designing a Life vs. Taking a Pill…

As much as I’m “lucky” in having been able to design a life I wanted to live – one of training, writing about training, eating good food and living as slow as I can as often as I can – I’ve also worked extremely hard for that privilege. I’ve made very difficult decisions and made some pretty big sacrifices. For every excuse, argument or assertion that someone “doesn’t have a choice” about how they live – be it family, financial or work obligations – I can probably make a counter argument that there are still plenty of choices or options if there’s a willingness to change attitudes, behavior patterns and, in some cases, consciousness.

I forget where I first heard it (apologies to the author), but it’s not that we don’t have any choices, it’s that we have HARD choices. There’s a very big difference…

Obviously, there are different ways to live. My personal perspective is that a slower, more spiritual, more “Paleo” and more thoughtful approach is the way to go. I’m sure my approach to life isn’t prefect for everyone.

My issue is more that many people – myself included at one time – don’t know there’s an option or a choice in how they live. It’s one thing to choose to live a fast-paced life in a city like New York, eat grain-based processed food on the run day after day and guzzle caffeine products all day when you know the potential – and pretty much inevitable – side effects.

It’s another thing to live in a way you think is going to lead you to some “enigmatic consumer culture defined bliss” that’s actually a moving target at best and a total myth at worst…

I’ll end with more words of wisdom from Seth Godin…



Who will save us?” by Seth Godin…

“Who will save book publishing?

What will save the newspapers?

What means ‘save’?

If by save you mean, “what will keep things just as they are?” then the answer is nothing will. It’s over.

If by save you mean, “who will keep the jobs of the pressmen and the delivery guys and the squadrons of accountants and box makers and transshippers and bookstore buyers and assistant editors and coffee boys,” then the answer is still nothing will. Not the Kindle, not the iPad, not an act of Congress.

We need to get past this idea of saving, because the status quo is leaving the building, and quickly. Not just in print of course, but in your industry too.

If you want to know who will save the joy of reading something funny, or the leverage of acting on fresh news or the importance of allowing yourself to be changed by something in a book, then don’t worry. It doesn’t need saving. In fact, this is the moment when we can figure out how to increase those benefits by a factor of ten, precisely because we don’t have to spend a lot of resources on the saving part.

Every revolution destroys the average middle first and most savagely.”

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SINS Angel – Kristin Jekielek…

Kristin Jekielek Sports Top

February 2012 - What a Paleo diet and CrossFit once or twice a week can accomplish!

I’ve known Kristin for a while now – on Facebook anyway! She’s been doing a lot in the Paleo community and there’s even a pic of her and her sister with Mark Sisson in Mark’s new book.

One thing I wanted to mention – something you guys hear from me all the time and something I hear more and more the more people I talk to – is that Kristin is taking charge of her health by reducing her stress and changing her lifestyle. It’s not just about “Paleo” as a diet or going to “CrossFit,” she’s working on the WHOLE PACKAGE to get where she wants to go and nurture her body…

But, I digress.. Here’s Kristin’s story in her own words along with some Questions and Answers at the end!

Kristin Jekielek…

My Primal journey doesn’t have a dramatic before & after story. I don’t have a fat pants photo. I didn’t recover from a debilitating disease. All that happened on the outside was a few pounds lost with hardly any effort (while eating bacon, cream, and red meat). On the inside, though, I felt BETTER…. I can’t think of another way to put it simply. My thoughts were clearer, I was more energetic, I liked the way I looked, my skin cleared up, my food cravings disappeared, I learned what it meant to be hungry again (and not just tired), and I came to LOVE cooking. Everything just kinda got….better. This all happened in July 2009 when I first learned how to work WITH my body instead of against it by eating a Paleo diet. Six months later I joined a CrossFit box and fell in love with Olympic Weightlifting. The positive changes I saw increased exponentially.

Paleo Just Makes Sense…

The Paleo lifestyle just makes sense. This has become more true for me as I keep learning about our bodies, food, health, and illness. It gives the greatest results for the least amount of effort once you get over the learning curve. Fats and protein work WITH my body to let me know when I’ve eaten enough, and I no longer experience hunger-inducing insulin crashes from gag-inducing low-fat whole grains.

I have become passionate about providing new, useful Paleo tools that help others. For when you’re on the go, I created PaleoGoGo as an iTunes & Android app that provides recommendations on what to eat at chain restaurants. For when you’re at home, I partnered with James Gregory to create FastPaleo, a paleo recipe sharing site where anyone can upload and share a recipe, no blog required. I also give Paleo nutrition seminars at CrossFit gyms across Philadelphia and work on-on-one with clients. I really want to see people succeed with this lifestyle.

A Twist to the Story…

However, my story does come with a twist. I gave myself an iodine deficiency. Your thyroid is dependent on the stuff, so methodically removing all dietary sources of it over the course of a year and a half causes it to misbehave. This is bad because your thyroid impacts all sorts of little things like metabolism and hormone regulation.

So what happened? Since I was eschewing processed foods, eating strictly grass-fed/pastured animals at home, and cooking 90% of my food with sea salt instead of table salt, I was unknowingly omitting all iodine from my diet. The very first day I supplemented with iodine I saw a remarkable recovery. It seemed like an easy fix, and I continue to supplement with iodine daily.

Several months down the road my condition had improved to where I was about 75% better and eating 95% primal because cheating still made my symptoms worse. More blood work identified yet another thyroid problem. I was diagnosed with autoimmune Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a disorder that causes hypothyroid symptoms while the immune system slowly destroys the thyroid. It’s likely that I’ve had it for years and that it was exacerbated by the iodine deficiency. Hypothyroid symptoms include extreme fatigue, difficulty concentrating, brain fog, acne, change in body composition, depressed mood, sleeping a lot more than normal, zero libido, and more.


Kristin Doing a PR Over Head Squat


I see it as a blessing that my Hashi’s was brought to light at this point. Otherwise, it would have continued to destroy my thyroid for years and may not have been diagnosed until there was very little left of my thyroid. Right now I have the chance to actively manage my condition and try to preserve my thyroid for as long as I can. It turns out that staying Paleo is a crucial aspect of this, along with stress reduction, stress management, drastically reducing high-intensity workouts, and getting 9 hours of sleep every single day. If you want to read more about my experiences with diagnosing and managing Hashimoto’s, I wrote a blog post about it here: http://fastpaleo.com/what-the-doctors-didnt-tell-me/.


Kristin Jekielek at a Tough Mudder event

May 2010 at a Tough Mudder event - YES, that's FIRE in the background

 Learning, Growing and Changing…

I have had to completely change my life to accomplish my goal of managing Hashi’s. It has been unbelievably difficult, but it’s my only choice since I have made health my top priority. I don’t go out nearly as often as I’d like because I need my sleep. When I do, I have to make sure to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum or I’ll be laid out with hypo symptoms the next day. I changed jobs because the stress was causing me to relapse, with a huge decrease in pay. I can’t work out often because my body just can’t handle that added physical stress, so I go to CrossFit about once/week. I’ve learned how to ask for help from others, and more importantly, I’ve learned that I can’t and shouldn’t always try to do everything on my own.

My dedication to overall health has really paid off. While many women with hypothyroidism experience uncontrollable sugar cravings and weight gain, my body has maintained itself at a fairly consistent body composition even though over the past year I’ve lost 10 pounds of muscle because I can’t work out like I used to. I have less definition and a little extra flesh, but it’s not a drastic change. Eating Primal has even helped me to retain a surprising amount of strength during this time. This experience has really driven home the saying that “body composition is 80% diet”.

Is my body where I ideally want it to be? No. Do I think I’m doing really well for the circumstances of the past year of my life? Absolutely. We have to look at the big picture if we want the motivation to truly succeed. Because of this, I will continue to put my health first and make a strict, clean diet my priority.

I’m currently in a transformative phase. I’m beginning to feel like myself again after a year and a half of serious health issues that kept me from being able to think and act normally, but I still have to take it day by day. I can’t set my expectations too high for each day because sometimes the hypothyroid symptoms come back with a vengeance, leaving me weak and unfocused. I have instead learned to be grateful for each good day I have, to get the most out of each day, and to be kind to myself so that I can have more good days. The future holds many possibilities, and I will continue to focus on my health so that I’m in the best place possible each day to take on new challenges.

Some Q and A…

You’ve been really active on Strong is the New Skinny on Facebook for a while now. What does “Strong is the New Skinny” mean to you?

At the heart of the message is empowerment. To me it means taking back the definition of female beauty. Instead of following the cultural norm and spending time, money, and energy on attaining the warped ideal of “skinny”, women are using their bodies to the fullest extent to create bodies that are truly works of art. Instead of hating their bodies for not conforming, women are taking action to make their bodies into powerful forces that uplift their spirits and self-confidence. Women are taking pride in what they can do, and they’re showing us that they can do a whole hell of a lot more than they ever thought possible.  

Where do you see yourself physically, mentally and health-wise in the next few years?

This is a difficult question for me to answer. Living with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism requires that I release my expectations day to day because sometimes I am physically unable to exercise. However, within a few years I hope to be in a place where I’ve nurtured myself back to my full potential and am off the Synthroid. I want to be CrossFitting 4 times each week, mixed with a nurturing exercise like yoga. I understand recovery time and mobility are essential for continued strength gains. I’ve started to incorporate relaxation tapes and meditation into my daily routine, and I expect to have these formed into a solid habit by then.

My ideal state of being is active and focused while being mindful and calm.

[A note here for Kristin and anyone else who might be interested in guided relaxation/meditation is that I LOVE Hypnotica’s Yoga Nidra Mediation as well as his other work. Definitely check his stuff out on CD Baby!]

You’re really active in the Paleo community and CrossFit communities online. Do you have a vision for where you want to see these communities in a few years?

Both communities are set to explode in the next couple years. CrossFit is really gaining popularity through the Reebok sponsorship in addition to word of mouth, and the knowledge of the Paleo diet will spread with it. However, Paleo is also spreading to other demographics based on its own merit. We’re already seeing greater acceptance of Paleo principles in mainstream media. The results are real, and we’ll see more attention being drawn to this.

The Paleo community is absolutely thriving online. There are small groups already doing this across the country, but I’d love to see more in-person meet ups happening. The power of numbers will go a long way towards getting better food options at local stores and restaurants, which will clearly help people day to day.

And… Back to Me…

Thanks SO MUCH for being a SINS Angel and for ALL that you do in the Paleo and CrossFit communities, Kristin! Good luck and I’ll see ya on Facebook!






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Hard Copies – The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link!

This is just a quick blog post to let everyone know that I still have a few hard copies of “The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link” left from The 2011 Beast of the East Fitness Festival. They’re really nice books with a new cover that incorporates my new logo for Practical Paleolithic. They have a clear plastic sheet front and back to protect them, are comb bound and have a thick glossy color cover and thick back cover. The inside is black and white. They really came out nice. They’re over 160 pages 8.5 X 11 pages front to back and the pages are single sided.


The Paleo Dieter's Missing Link Hard Copies

I don’t have a lot of them left, but if there’s enough demand I might print more – time will tell on that one.

The hard copies are $40 plus $10 for UPS shipping. If you’re interested in one, send me an email (adam@practicalpaleolithic.com) and let me know and I’ll send you a PayPal for the payment.

(If you’re rather have an eBook version of “The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link”, you can still download that for $27 right here.)

BTW, the event was absolutely awesome and I had a great time at my booth signing books and meeting all my new friends – like Torrey – and hanging out with some old ones like – Tom and Bryce. The IKFF East Coast Kettlebell Beast Competition that I ran was a great time!

Here’s a pic of me and my girlfriend, Michelle, with our friend Torrey from New Jersey in front of our booth…

Adam Farrah with Michelle and Torrey at the 2011 Beast of the East Fitness Festival



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The Paleo Diet – What to Eat…

Training and Paleo Diet Q and A Image


Here’s a question from Raphael in Australia:

“Hey Adam,

Just came across your website (saw a link on the IKFF Facebook page).
Some great articles to read – and just finished going through your

Paul Chek’s book got me quite interested in general health. Then onto
Mark’s Daily Apple, and other paleo resources.
I’ve definitely moved to a more paleo eating regime, although still
love a bowl of oats in the morning, and always look forward to a visit
to the patisserie every other week. (I’m on the skinny side, so weight
loss is not a goal).
I’m actually trying to put some weight on again, this time in a more
healthy manner. Last time I put on close to 10kg eating a lot of junk
food (and heavy weights) – was definitely a good amount of muscle, but
too much fat! :)

Anyway, just wanted to pass on my thanks, as your site looks like a
great resource!

One thing I struggle with (I haven’t gone through all your articles)
is what to eat?? Organic animal + vegetables is a good staple, but
some people say bacon + eggs are also paleo (of course eggs are, but
processed meat such as bacon.. who knows).

My point is – It’d be great if you included meal ideas.. Maybe what
you eat.. It’s always good to see what others are eating..
I think a good strategy is to not think of breakfast as a separate
meal – organic animal meat + vegetables 2 or 3 times a day would
probably be the true paleo way.

Warm Regards,
(Sydney, Australia)”

Thanks again for the question, Raphael – and all the kind words! :-)

Here are the links to my past posts that will help out:





And here are links to my friends James and Kristin and George – BOTH are great recipe sites:





IMPORTANT! Adam Farrah is not a doctor or medical professional. This information is based on my own opinion and is not meant to be medical advice or to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe in any way.

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My Personal Journey to Paleo…

Drag Sled on Dirt Road

At the urging of a new friend who started reading my book “The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link” a few days ago, I’ve decided to post the preface of the book here on my blog. My journey from where I was to where I am was long and difficult and full of setback, disappointments, shady characters and people who were all to willing to push me into accepting less for myself, my life and my health. Here’s how I got from where I was to where I am…

My book, “The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link”  is a book I knew I was going to write for a long time.

In the fall of 2004 I owned a big house with a big mortgage, worked a high-stress corporate biotech job, slept fewer than 5-6 hours a night and had just started an evening MBA program. I drank tons of coffee. Everything about my life was rushed and stressed. Of course, everyone would have expected me to remain healthy despite the schedule and the stress – after all, I was working out all the time, jogging almost daily and eating a “very healthy” diet of chicken breasts, protein shakes, whole grains, protein bars, granola bars, name brand yogurt and taking plenty of vitamins and supplements.

I soon found out I was far from healthy.

After nearly dying from Ulcerative Colitis, I began a long battle with digestive illness, chronic fatigue, depression and a lot of other health issues. Of course, I (at the time) and anyone in the mainstream establishment I knew, attributed my problems to “bad luck.” All the conventional doctors I saw (save for one) couldn’t – and wouldn’t – do anything but medicate symptoms with drugs that usually made things worse or caused other problems. I was told over and over again: “There’s no known cause for your illness and no known cure. All we can do is ‘manage your disease’ with drugs. Diet has nothing to do with it.” I even had the head of Gastroenterology at a major university hospital recommend I eat “bread” because my diet of only raw fruit smoothies and steamed vegetables – which seemed to be making me feel better and reduce the pain of digestion – wasn’t of adequate nutrition and nutrient “deficiencies” might result without bread. Bread…

I also made the rounds to various alternative medical people. All of them proved useless as well and were only interested in selling high-priced supplements or advancing their own dogmatic ideas. None had any answers, but all were more than happy to accept money in exchange for a useless opinion, some tests and some useless bottles of crap that didn’t help or made me feel worse.

I spent years sick and exhausted. My usually boundless creativity and energy were gone. I had all I could do to drag myself in to a job that I hated so I could sit at a desk and collect a paycheck. I still worked out and did Karate, but my training was lackluster and always interrupted for various time periods by digestive problems from moderate to severe. I made more than one trip to an emergency room due to dehydration, anemia and sever inflammation of my intestinal tract. Each time it was the same story: “Diet has nothing to do with it. You’ll need to be on medication for the rest of your life to ‘manage your disease’.”

That’s me, sick and miserable sitting at a desk doing a job I hated. The company I worked for was failing and I was surrounded by difficult and negative people…

Adam Farrah, Sick and Misureable in 2006

My grandfather once said about me: ”Adam is over-confident and over-optimistic, but he usually turns out to be right.” Looking back it was pretty crazy – I stopped taking the prednisone and other crap they were loading me up with, stopped going to anyone for help and began reading everything I could get my hands on and experimenting. I experimented with all sorts of diets, fasting, positive thinking, meditation and everything else that had even a remote chance of helping me. Every so often, I’d show up in an emergency room because things got out of hand. I’d do just enough conventional treatment to get back on my feet and get back to my still-stressful job and resume my dietary research and trial and error.

This was all nearly 7 years ago. It’s relatively easy to talk about, but the day to day process I went through was excruciating. Over that 7 years I examined every aspect of my diet, my past, my goals, my thinking, my friends, my relationships, my work and my life. It was a battle and I was literally fighting for my life. And not just my “life” as in not dying, my life as in having a good one that I enjoyed and actually wanted to live. I have no doubt that the doctors could have kept me alive – but I’m certain the life I would have had under their care would have been a living hell.

I reached the point where I was determined to regain my health and live the life I wanted or die trying. There would be no lifetime of drugs and surgeries and emergency rooms and gastroenterologists who could barely speak English. They all told me I would die if I didn’t take their medications and do what they told me. They told me that nothing I did with my diet or lifestyle would help.  It was a risk I was willing to take. Life on my terms or death, those were my options. At times, I really didn’t care which one it was.

Things began to really turn around in 2008, even though I was working yet another stressful and miserable corporate job and still had plenty of negative people and situations in my life. I was doing relatively well on a diet of meats, fruit, vegetables and goat yogurt and had been eating that diet for years. I was still far from healthy, though. At this time, I still thought my training days were over. I was too tired and too out of shape to want to do much of anything. I used to be big and strong and fit and live in the gym. College, then corporate life and then illness changed all that. I had lost all of the muscle and strength I built from a lifetime of weights and training. And now, the diet I needed to be on to stay healthy wasn’t anything like the one I “needed” to be on to get strong and train again. Or so I thought.

Like most, I was deluded by marketing and mainstream nonsense. I thought there was a specific diet you ate for each health problem, a diet you ate to build muscle, a diet you ate to burn fat, a diet you ate for psychological health, a diet you ate to run marathons and on and on. Special diets and special supplements. Like everything else in our modern world, everything was specialized and fractionated as far as I could tell. Something Paul Chek’s work helped me realize is that there’s a basic, foundational way to eat for health – and that health is a foundation you build on for specific needs. Eating to heal a digestive illness may have been my priority at one time, but it was entirely ignorant of me – and of our culture in general – to think that the diet that healed my digestive system wouldn’t be the diet that would help me achieve strength and performance or psychological health or any other goal I had. Certainly the application of certain principles or foods might change, but a healthy diet is a healthy diet regardless of goals or specific circumstances.

A healthy diet is a healthy diet and is universal.

Let me say that again in a different way:

There are solid, unchanging principles that make up a diet that is healthy for humans. This is a fact. There is a right and a wrong way to eat.

Yes, there is latitude within the context of “what is a healthy diet to eat” and there will be differences and variations depending on goals, individual health, tolerance for certain foods, genetics and a million other details, but the question of what to eat is not as complex as many would like us to believe. In fact, science tells us – with absolute certainty – what is healthy for us to eat and what is not healthy for us to eat. It’s just that the science that tells us this isn’t medical science. The science that gives us the answers to the questions we ask about what to eat is anthropology and the related disciplines. To see our way to a healthy future we need to use science to look at the past.

The idea of this diet vs. that diet, the 1000’s of diet books, the experts and doctors and pundits and arguments and conflicts on The Dr. Oz show and most everything else within the commercial diet landscape are nothing but distracting nonsense, bullshit, hype and manipulative marketing efforts.

Evolution tells us how to eat and how to live. History shows us what we were designed to eat and how we were designed to live and history shows us how we’ve declined as a species the further we’ve drifted from what is natural to us. The future of health and of medicine is in this evolutionary concept and it will someday be the commonly accepted way to understand and treat health and disease.


“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

– Arthur Schopenhauer


Everything changed for me in 2009 when I read Randy Roach’s book “Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors. Volume I.” In this outstanding history of bodybuilding and Physical Culture, Randy showed the diets and nutritional philosophies of the strongest and healthiest from the 1800’s and early to mid 1900’s. This is before modern medicine was what it is now, before marketing and medicating symptoms were what they are now. The early strongmen ate the things we eat now and consider “Paleo” in many instances.

For the first time, I was aware of athletes who were capable of moving weights I couldn’t have dreamed of in my best training days – and they were doing it long before anabolic steroids, “advanced” protein shakes and bars, pre-workout drinks and stimulants and all the equipment “advances” we’re told we need to be strong and be healthy. Many of these men drank raw cow or goat milk, ate foods straight from the farms they were grown or raised on and practiced a lot of the “strange” things I read about in many of the very fringe books I was reading about health and healing. Many of them fasted, they obsessed about food quality. Many avoided grains. Most avoided alcohol. This is the first time I really saw the connection between eating for health and eating for strength and performance.

I also saw the connection between lifestyle and health or the lack of it. Once I started making these connections, things started to really pick up momentum and change in my life. I quit jobs and ended relationships. My friend Chris Wright-Martell let me start training clients as a strength coach out of his school, Modern Self-Defense Center in Middletown, CT. He had a few kettlebells at the school and I started using them. I got hooked. A few months later I got certified as Kettlebell Teacher by Steve Cotter and Ken Blackburn from the IKFF. I started training harder and feeling better.

It wasn’t too long after this that I found my way to the CrossFit community when I taught a kettlebell seminar at CrossFit Relentless. I became good friends with the owner, Merle Mckenzie, and he encouraged me to get into CrossFit. I did. And that’s when I came full circle. CrossFitters were eating Paleo and doing it for performance. I started following Robb Wolf’s work.

In 2005 all my friends and coworkers wanted to know when I would be able to eat “normally” again. Girlfriends were annoyed and frustrated because there was “something wrong with me” that kept us from taking day trips to Sturbridge Village to eat fried seafood and ice cream. They wanted to stay out all night and drink in loud clubs and I wanted to be home sleeping at 10pm – because there was “something wrong with me.”

Today, I’m healthy. I’m happy. I live in the tiny beach cottage in Old Saybrook, CT that my great grandfather bought for the family as a summer home. I run at the beach. I feel good. I eat good local foods. I do yoga in the yard in the sun with humming birds flitting here and there. I go to bed early, I get up early and I lift heavy things in a little barn behind the house. I write constantly. I actively avoid negative people and places and practices. There’s nothing “wrong with me” anymore…

And this is me NOW (Summer of 2011) – Strong, happy, healthy and doing what I LOVE…

Adam Farrah and Carrie - Strong is the New Skinny

Me and my great friend Carrie.

In truth, there never was anything “wrong with me.” There was – and still is – something wrong with a culture where health isn’t a priority, foods we’re told are healthy by “experts” aren’t, disease is rampant, lifestyles are out of control with stress and strife and no one will look at the facts, tell the truth, drop the politics and create change. Misinformation in the diet and health fields is ubiquitous. Almost no one tells the truth. Almost. Change is coming and there will be many established power structures that suffer and disappear when it does.

The “Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link” is my contribution to creating change in the way we think about health and diet and the way we eat and live. Some of the things I say in the book are risky and unpopular. It’s a Paleo diet book but, as I’ll show you, Paleo is a diverse diet genre. It’s not a single diet made up of black and white principles to follow without question or individualization. I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to help you understand Paleo and related approaches in a way that they’re not typically presented or explained. I want to empower you to make your own decisions, ask your own questions and find your own answers. I want to make connections and integrate knowledge from different places and different historical periods. I want to help you understand health and diet on a much deeper level than it’s currently presented.

I had to understand diet, health and lifestyle to heal and live again. I understand it on a very deep level because of the stakes I was playing at. I had to because I couldn’t have turned that mess of a life I was living around any other way. Many people still don’t get me or my lifestyle or my diet, but that’s really OK. I don’t care. I’m living my life the way I want to live it and that’s what’s important. I’m living life on my terms…



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Carb Fueling vs. Fat Fueling on Paleo…


Training and Paleo Diet Q and A Image

This question is from Ajay:

“I practice Jiu Jitsu with Gracie Barra four days a week. I recently started very strict paleo. I’m having trouble finding the right amount of foods to eat the right ones to fuel that workout (2.5 to 3 hours a day, four days a week). I love the way my body is working for me now and my goal is to shred about ten more pounds or so but the lack of fuel for my fights is getting discouraging. I’m not eating fruit in great amounts b/c of the sugars, only half an apple b4 and the other half at the end to replenish glycogen. about 2oz of nuts a day. I need advice, this thing is rad but hard to figure out. Great work on getting some jitsu on the blog. Geeyah, Parabens!”

Thanks again for the question, Ajay!



IMPORTANT! Adam Farrah is not a doctor or medical professional. This information is based on my own opinion and is not meant to be medical advice or to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe in any way.


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