Tuesday, April 26, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

Primal - What does it mean?

A primal lifestyle is basically a holistic approach to achieve health and wellbeing. The general philosophy is known under many different names such as paleo, caveman diet, evolutionary fitness and probably many, many more. I prefer the term primal in part because it is the first name I encountered the life style under, but also because the name implies much of what the philosophy means to me.

Primal hints to basic nature and origins, but it also points to something that is of greatest importance. Of course, it draws up cool imagery of living on the edge of a volcano, eating raw meat and glorious fights with man and beast. But what does living primal really mean?

The primal or paleo or whatever you call it community is already pretty fragmented, there are obviously different ideas and focus on what being primal really means. I found this quite confusing in the beginning. In trying to live up to what other people said about the lifestyle I had a hard time nailing down what to do. With time and practice I've realized that nobody can define and frame in my choice of lifestyle better than myself, so that is what I have done: Created my own definition of what being primal means to me, and live by that.

Like many others, I came across the lifestyle looking for a diet solution that would help me lose weight. I have since realized that primal includes much more than dieting, but I still think that what we eat is one of the most important factors in how we feel and how our health develops. What to eat was one of the first things I struggled with when discovering the primal way of life. I was looking for meal plans, suggested ingredients, recipes, acceptable substitutes etc. I have since decided that it is too much work to worry about all these things, instead I try to simplify my eating as much as possible. I hold every thing I eat up to a very simple rule: Could I have found this food in nature?

This simple rule automatically makes my diet extremely simple. I buy natural ingredients and make food from them. Things that come in cardboard boxes or on a spray can are automatically out. If it is shrink wrapped or has a list of ingredients that is longer and more complicated than the periodic table, I pass. This also means that I eat 'questionable' foods such as corn, potato and even grains. That will promptly exclude me from the primal label for many followers, but I have made up my own primal label, so it doesn't matter.

Before I go on I should point out that while I allow myself to eat many things other primal folk will not touch, it doesn't mean I eat it indiscriminately. I grow my own vegetables for example, and I have no qualms against eating my homegrown ears of corn or potatoes. I don't eat French fries at McDonalds or canned corn from the store however. I always strive to eat my food as minimally processed as possible. Even then I keep a balance. I don't eat tons of corn for example, and pay attention to how my body reacts to very sweet fruit.

So that is how I eat, vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts. Meat and fish and eggs and my beloved homemade kefir. The only thing I am very strict about is highly processed foods and refined sugar. I avoid them both as completely as I can. As a result I feel a whole lot better than I used to.

Being primal runs deeper than cutting out sugar though, when I realized the connection between only eating natural things and doing natural things it had a profound impact on my life. As modern humans we have lost touch with a lot more than just our food. Almost anything we do is removed from our primal origins. The way we move, how and when we sleep, work, entertainment, relationships, virtually everything is civilized and changed. While I'm not going to be the crazy guy who claims all forms of modernization is bad, I am also not going to accept that all progress really is for the better.

The second most important aspect of a primal life is to get up and move like you were meant to. We spend enormous amounts of time stationary, either in a car or in front of a TV and worst of all, for hours on end in an office chair in front of a computer. Our bodies were not design to be fantastic sitting machines, we have evolved brilliant muscles and joints that are perfect for moving around. So that is what I do. I walk for hours every day to and from my work, I jump, climb, run and crawl when I can. I stay out of the gym and instead get my exercise from working in my garden or climbing in my trees. And I stand up. I get plenty of sitting time, when I can I get up.

A primal lifestyle still has many aspects beyond these points. I avoid poison, embrace my sleep and try my best to reconnect with nature when I can. And this is just the beginning. Peeling away the harmful aspects of civilization most certainly requires a courageous mind, but it is most definitely worth the trouble. The rewards are a strong healthy mind and body.

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