Eating like a caveman? I am starting to enjoy living like one.
As I have detailed in Lifestyles (a previous post) and on my twitter feed, my family and me have adopted a Paleo lifestyle for the past 6 months.
The further I progress I realize that the diet is only the start. Many Paleo advocates will discuss the food which was part of our ancestors diet, but rarely will they discuss the lifestyle. This is where it gets interesting and fun.
Before I go any further, I fully realize the irony of progressing back to a caveman lifestyle and blogging about it. We do live in the 21st century after all, and there are a couple of things that I am sure our ancestors would liked to have had. An iPhone is probably at the top of the list……
Benefit #1 – Getting in Touch with Nature
On a regular basis, we are heading to local hiking area for the afternoon or I am heading solo from the house with the dog for a long walk. We have been able to experience many great locations in Calgary that until that moment, we didn’t know existed. It is an awesome experience to find a tranquil, almost uninhabited part of the city and take a seat and enjoy the view.
I now notice more of nature while we are out. I reckon getting out each day allows us to notice little changes to our environment. We have been surprised when the leaves begin chaning colour each fall; this year we were not because we noticed it coming for while. Everyday we could feel the air a little cooler and watched the trees get ready for winter.
My tan is better this year than most. Mexico you ask? Actually, from spending most of my time outdoors this summer. Vitamin D quota for the year; check.
For most of our outdoor activites, we sport minimalist style footwear. In modern times going barefoot may be more of a risk than a benefit. Think of all the broken glass and sharp rocks underneath our feet that have been protected their whole life; not so appealing hey? Whatever it may be, from a shoe like the Merril Road Glove to the opposite of a shoe, the Vibram Five Fingers, being closer to ground will help you connect with it.
Benefit #2 – Slow Life Down
Sitting on the deck with a cup of tea has now become my favorite past time. No, I am not in my 70’s, I have just realized that making an effort to slow life down pays dividends to your overal health. Sure, I still still run the race on Monday to Friday from 0800-1600 but other than that, I try to make life as slow as possible.
Benefit #3 – Enjoy Food
Eat when you are hungry and eat what you want.
No longer do we eat meals that make us feel tired or bloated, instead we eat the best of what our local farmers have to offer. This means fresh seasonal organic vegtables, grass fed and finished beef, locally raised chicken, and natural pork. We eat until we are full and not past it saving the leftovers (if there is any) for lunches the following day.
As my wfie has pointed out, meal planning for a Paleo household is no easy task. Don’t think that just becasue it was hard at first that you shouldn’t give it a try. Because you should. Now we can whip up a quick meal with anything we have in the house.
Benefit #4 – Family
This is what it is all about, being able to spend quality time with my family. By slowing things down, we have been able to spend time together that only a year ago we were hoping for. Our time is now spent enjoying each moment rather than running errands.
We don’t spend much time I front of the television either, instead we will opt for a board game or right now, we are working on a puzzle together.
There many positive aspects I have found with the Paleo lifestyle, from being able to maintain a consistent weight, higher energy levels, to enjoying each moment more and more; I am glad that I have made the progession.
Question: Have you tried it? If so, what is the best aspect for you? If not, are you going to try it?
Before I get everyone too mad, I am talking about food.
If you have ever tried to watch what you eat, eliminate something from your diet, avoid less than optimal ingredients, or shed a couple of extra pounds (who hasn’t?) then you can appreciate how tough it can be can stick with the plan. Your mind can take over, and the progression can be something like this.
Somehow, someway your tempting food has come into your posession. It can be pre-meditated, you grabbed it conciously in the market and insist that you can keep it in the wrapper. It can be accidental, they were delivered to the office and set out for all to enjoy. It can be unavoidable, you are heading to a pasta restaurant for lunch with family.
Myself, I walk by a fresh food market on my way home each afternoon. Most times I resist going in, sometimes go in and leave with an apple, and once in awhile, a cookie makes the trip with me.
But it never works the way you want it too. Not much longer, you begin to think about it again. “Man it did taste good”.
Well alright, maybe just one more piece. I mean, 60 calories can’t hurt right. I wont need another piece if I have this one, so you chow down on your second piece. This time instead of putting the trt away, you foolishly leave it out.
So you finish it off sending your satisfaction up and down all at the same time. Up as you have the pleasure of eating what you wanted, and low because you couldn’t keep with your goal.
So is cheating all that bad?
It has been proven that a carb refeed, or in lamen terms cheat day, actually helps with fat loss. Mark Sission covers this topic in great detail on his blog, Mark’s Daily Apple, here.
I will dedicate a future post to the various online resources I have used to go Paleo over the last year.
Always having to limit yourself by declining invitations, eating what can be boring food sometimes, and staying away from the bakery at the supermarket is challenging enough. So mentally, a cheat day can help you stay the course, albeit with a quick detour to the local ice cream shop.
This is something I have experimented in over the last 6 months with good success. The ability to treat myself to non-optimal foods has proven to reduce my craving for them during the week and has boosted fat burning. This is all of course if you can keep your cheat day to a ‘day’. This is not an issue for me, but I know several others who have not been able to stop at breakfast the next morning. If this is the case, maybe try a cheat meal to keep things in check.
Question: What do you do when cravings arise? Have you experimented with Carb Re-Feeds?
I don’t eat what I kill or run for survival, but sometimes, very rarely, I kinda feel like a caveman.
My life is pretty far from the life in prehistoric times. After gravitating toward the Paleo Lifestyle, or Caveman Diet, I have began to think about how our ancestors lived, and how they survived. It couldn’t have been easy.
My first thought: Food. As a triathlete training between 9 and 12 hours a week, my thoughts always gravitate towards food. ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall was my introduction to the idea that the ability to provide consistent protein was a deciding factor in the evolution from neanderthal.
Prehistoric man had access to food in it’s natural state; wild and not willing to go quietly. There was no guarentee that supper was going to be served, and when it was, it must have been a celebration. The meat was obviously grass fed and raised with no antibiotics or hormones and the fruit/nuts/tubers would be organic with no pesticides or apperance enhancing chemicals.
Today, we have everything we need within our grasp, typically in our pantries. The choices are less than optimal; loaded with sugar, wheat, and chemicals tough to pronounce, let alone understand why they are there.
My second thought: Family. Modern day families must look crazy to a caveman. I would like to think that there was equality due to the well defined roles. The men hunt, the women gather; each role having great significance to the survival of the family and the group.
Children were rasied by the group, not by the individual families. The played and more importantly learnt from the whole, having the opportunity to hone their survival skills for the years to come.
These days childern are tought by strangers, as good as they are (teachers are awesome), nothing can replace the wisdom of your family.
My third thought: Society. The constant running around and self imposed stress are obsticles I am sure they did not have to face. Keeping up with the prehistoric Jones’ must have been pretty easy, unless your next door neighbor invented the wheel….
In order to survive, a band would have to work together to find water, gather food, and build shelter. They had a sense of trust with each other, their life depended on it.
These days, we are isolated as families, occasionally asking for help from our extended family, and even more rarely from our neighbors.
My final thought: Present Day. This weekend we sat on the river shoreline and ate lunch. After we were done, we waded in the river, threw stones, and collected rocks for the trip home. I commented to my wife, “I feel kind of like a caveman’. Having the opportunity to relax with my family, enjoying nature was an expereince we don’t have very often and one I would like to have more often.
We need to take time to slow down, enjoy the little things in life, as we can get lost in the modern day shuffle.
So grab your family, including dog, and head out of the house for a hike in your community.
Question: What can you do in your present day to slow things down?
Some call it a diet, but when it comes to Paleo, I call it a lifestyle.
When I decided to begin training and racing for a Triathlon, I didn’t give much thought into my diet. Hey, there is too many things to worry about; navigating the swim, finding a bike to ride, and can I actually run after T2.
After my first race season, I realized that diet Is just as important as my training schedule. So I began experimenting with several different lifestyles. My goal was to reduce my body fat percentage while increasing my lean muscle mass. I find it odd that guys will spend thousands of dollars on gear to reduce weight on their bike only to gain 1kg in training.
I now have been ‘Paleo’ for while, and have been performing better than I have before. Here is my progression to a Paleo lifestyle.
High Carb Lifetsyle – I started with the typical 60% carb diet with no restrictions. I was burning anywhere from 800-1200 extra calories a day, I could eat anything I wanted right? Wrong. I continued to feel less than optimal and hovered around 81kg. I continued to January until my wife said she wanted to lose some weight, and I agreed to join her as it is much easier to cook for 2, than 2 different meals.
Slow Carb Diet – I have been a huge fan of Tim Ferriss’ “Four Hour Body” since I purchased it. I never gave thought to the SCD as I felt it was too low on carbs (rice, bread, etc) to sustain a full training schedule. When my wife wanted to try something, this is what I suggested, and it paid off. I dropped to 74kg and felt lean and mean for the first time as a triathlete. I found out Tim was bang on, the SCD “is meant to be effective, not enjoyable”.
Paleo Diet – Eating like a caveman, good thing I don’t have to live like a caveman. After moving to the Paleo lifestyle my performance has been better than ever. I weight in at 76kg on a pretty regular basis, except when I have a giant ice cream or half a strawberry/rhubarb pie. I no longer feel blah after meals. As a fringe benefit, we have found that our daughter sleeps better if she follows along with the Paleo lifestyle. Run faster, sleep better I guess.
I will dedicate a future post to what I eat and how to modify the Paleo diet with high intensity training.
Question: Any other triathletes out there who have successfully transitioned to a Paleo lifestyle?