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The Unconventional Guide to Adopting a Paleo Lifestyle

The Unconventional Guide to Adopting a Paleo Lifestyle

    While I was in Barnes and Noble last weekend I notice that there were an influx of diet books scattered throughout the center portion of the store. It makes sense with all the New Year crash dieting going on. What I thought was more interesting was that some of these were Paleo dieting books, which, until recently hasn’t been accepted by the mainstream as well as a low fat or even the low carb type of diet approach.

    This got me thinking about my slow and unconventional approach making it to the Paleo lifestyle. So, if you want to start to get lean, feel better, have more strength and vitality, you could go the traditional route by buying a good Paleo book (some recommended below), read some Paleo blogs, listen to a Paleo podcast, and turn into a caveman. Or, you could follow my long, winding path that has gotten me to a Paleo lifestyle.

    What we are moving toward

    A Paleo lifestyle is rather simple and straight forward. There is a lot of literature out there of what is good and what is bad for you when it comes to eating, but it comes down to a few simple things:

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    1. Eat quality, preferably grass-fed, meat
    2. Eat fresh vegatables
    3. Stay away from legumes and dairy as much as possible
    4. Lay off the processed sugar
    5. Don’t eat grains, don’t consume wheat gluten, and lay off of industrial seed oils
    6. Move around, lift heavy things, walk every day

    Though it seems simple, this type of lifestyle can be tough to get to.

    Trial and error

    My first foray into a low carb diet was eating Atkins about 6 years ago. I ate meat, veggies, cheese, and fats. I also started exercising three times a week. It worked. I lost around 30 pounds in all of 3 or 4 months and started to get some muscles and energy back.

    This was a great first step. It showed me that I could actually lose weight and start to get lean if I wanted to, that my genes weren’t “destined” to make me fat, and that I could keep the weight off if I followed a diet.

    At the time I still thought that whole grains and grains in general were OK for me and that I just needed to lay off of them until I reached an acceptable weight to resume eating them. Little did I know is that the whole grains were the things that were keeping me fat, as they opened my up to eating more and more starches as my body craved them more.

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    Needless to say, when I slowly put grains back into my diet I slowly started eating more of them, and slowly started to gain weight. It was all a downhill progression from there taking me back to junk foods, fast food, sweets, and the like.

    It’s important to remember that we are all human and that we can’t do everything perfectly at first. It took several attempts at a diet until I finally could keep it going. Once I found the Paleo lifestyle and decided to eat to live rather than live to eat, I haven’t had a problem falling off the diet wagon and am closer than I have ever been to my ideal weight.

    Get active!

    The next thing is that you have to get active to live the Paleo lifestyle. The nice part about this is that there is no “set regimen” when it comes to exercising. You can make it up as you go, just as long as you are active.

    I tend to walk for about an hour a day and do body weight exercises 3 to 4 times a week, but this isn’t even a hard and fast rule. Plus, I go in and out of the doing the body weight exercises. But, as long as you are moving for at least an hour a day that should be fine. I’m not talking about running the rat-race on the treadmill, I mean you can walk, hike, do pushups, pullups, whatever, for a total of an hour a day.

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    Don’t be too hard on yourself

    This is the reason that most everyone fails and decides to give-up on the Paleo approach. Most humans tend to be all or nothing creatures and if something doesn’t work or we screw something up just a little bit, we might as well not do it at all. I know that this is the case for me.

    So what if you snuck a candybar after dinner or had a few french fries? Just keep moving forward in the Paleo lifestyle. You are bound to make mistakes in this new way of life. No need to be too hard on yourself.

    Follow the 80/20 principal

    The Pareto principal has been around for a while and if you are a productivity nerd then you have definitely heard of it. But, Mark Sisson, of Mark’s Daily Apple fame, has taken this and applied it to the Paleo approach. He believes that if you follow the lifestyle 80% of the time, or do the 80% of the lifestyle that is the most important, that you will succeed without being hard on yourself.

    I’d say there are some things that you need to follow to the ‘T’, like avoiding gluten at all costs as well as the industrial seed oils, but the other things can are malleable; like eating strictly grass-fed beef or no potatoes or rice.

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    Get and stay inspired

    Below are the three things that introduced me to the Paleo lifestyle and kept me inspired when the going got tough:

    Conclusion

    So how do you make it to the Paleo lifestyle? Through trial and error, getting active, not being too hard on yourself, following the 80/20 principal, and getting inspired. Looking back, I wouldn’t have liked to get to to my Paleo lifestyle in any other way, and frankly, the traditional “buy-this-book-and-follow-this-plan-forever” kind of way probably wouldn’t have stayed with me long term.

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

    So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

    1. Exercise

    It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

    2. Drink in Moderation

    I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

    3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

    Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

    4. Watch Less Television

    A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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    Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

    5. Eat Less Red Meat

    Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

    If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

    6. Don’t Smoke

    This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

    7. Socialize

    Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

    8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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    9. Be Optimistic

    Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

    10. Own a Pet

    Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

    11. Drink Coffee

    Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

    12. Eat Less

    Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

    13. Meditate

    Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

    Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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    How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

    14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

    15. Laugh Often

    Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

    16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

    Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

    17. Cook Your Own Food

    When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

    Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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    18. Eat Mushrooms

    Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

    19. Floss

    Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

    20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

    Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

    Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

    21. Have Sex

    Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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    Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

    Reference

    [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
    [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
    [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
    [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
    [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
    [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
    [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
    [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
    [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
    [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
    [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
    [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
    [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
    [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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