Revisiting The Primal Blueprint

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I’ve mentioned in a few posts recently that I’ve been reminiscing about living in our first apartment in Jupiter, how it has me homesick for Florida and the life we had there. Without getting all philosophical and emotional about the past and present and blah blah, I will say that I’ve been doing a little soul-searching to figure out why things feel so different now and guess what came up for me repeatedly? A major – and I mean MAYY-JORR – contributing factor to living the vibrant, healthy, happy life we enjoyed there was – SHOCKER!! – our diet and workouts. You’d think as a yoga teacher and nutritional therapist, this would be old news to me, right? I mean, duh, Erin. Duhhh.

SO, long story short, I thought back to when I first started getting into fitness and healthy eating, and decided to revisit the first book I ever read on the Paleo diet/lifestyle – that changed the way I looked at food and working out, might I add: The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation.

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Okay, ignore the cheesy cover – this book is legit.

I first found the book by poking around the internet googling something along the lines of “eat like a female bodybuilder”… I KNOW, I know, make fun of me now, I’m fine with it. I had started working out more (Tim was traveling a lot and I was only working part-time so it became something to fill gaps in my day) but I wasn’t noticing much change in my body. I didn’t actually want to be a body-builder, but I knew my body type was muscular (aka, I was not designed to look like a super-skinny VS model) and I wanted to see what I could do with it. But I was still weak and knew it probably had something to do with my diet because, at that point all I knew of nutrition was the mainstream low-fat, whole grain nonsense… I was clueless (like the majority of the population) about feeding myself for optimal wellness and in this case, athletic performance.

ANYWAY. In my google search, I came across this article, which I could totally relate to… and which led me to this article, which broke down the Paleo diet so I could understand it… which then led me to Mark’s Daily Apple, Mark Sisson’s website. After poking around a bit on his site, I downloaded the 21-Day Total Body Transformation and, as I said above, my life was changed.

Tim and I implemented the lifestyle immediately. I was already getting an organic produce share every week, so my grocery trips to Whole Foods and sometimes Costco meant stocking up on quality meat and fish, healthy fats like organic coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, and a variety of spices and primal-friendly pantry staples like coconut aminos and almond meal.

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The mother load.

I continued my workouts and noticed changes in my strength and endurance in the first week. I was adding weight to my sets consistently and feeling strong and energized at the end of my workouts instead of depleted and dizzy.

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HA! Nice face. Remember this?! Check my guns, yo!

We followed the advice of the book and started enjoying exercise more by finding things we liked to do outside the gym, participating in group beach workouts and going for bike rides together.

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Six days a week, we ate every meal according to the primal blueprint guidelines, enjoying a glass of red wine here and there, a square of 90% dark chocolate almost every night, and one night a week, usually on the weekend, we’d enjoy a meal at one of many local favorite restaurants. While we tried to stick close to primal blueprint guidelines when we ate dinner out, we knew we couldn’t control what was going into the dish and we didn’t obsess about it. And sometimes, we didn’t stick to the blueprint at all. We were crazy fit, healthy, energized, and happy! Life was seriously our oyster and we were eating it right up… because those are allowed, heyyyy.

Enjoying a burger, fries, and beer (off-meal) after a long bike ride on the beach... and, from the look on his face, also enjoying ESPN on the bar TV. ;)

Enjoying a burger, fries, and beer (off-meal) after a long bike ride on the beach… and, from the look on his face, also enjoying ESPN on the bar TV. ;)

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Eggs (in one of many forms) and veggies for breakfast were ARE the new norm.

***

SIDE NOTE TIME! Now, I will admit that being pregnant has me a little more body-conscious than normal right now, (and that my current total weight gain of 6lbs feels like 20 on my 5’3″ frame) but this isn’t about that. It’s about getting back the energy, the clarity of mind and body, the zest for life, and preparing myself not only for the delivery of a healthy baby, but also for my rebound into a successful run with breast-feeding and optimal post-preg wellness for both me and the babe.

So that is what inspired me, a couple weekends ago, on the way home from our road-trip to Raleigh, to take the 4.5 hours in the car as the perfect opportunity to revisit and refresh my memory of the Primal Blueprint. So that A) I could get re-motivated to clear my kitchen of any lingering first-trimester junk food and replace it with healthy primal-friendly stock, and B) so that I could share with YOU the basic gist of the Primal Blueprint and perhaps persuade you to look into trying it for yourself. (I promise, you won’t regret it!)

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SO, without further rambling (geez, I know, sorryyyy, that was a long intro), here it is.

The Primal Blueprint is about getting the greatest health and fitness benefits you can with the least amount of pain, suffering, and sacrifice […] Today, my goal is to look super fit without having to follow an exhaustive, time-consuming exercise regimen, [and] enjoy the heck out of my meals without the slightest hint of deprivation.  – Mark Sisson

I’m going to outline the key concepts for you here. You can find more information about the lifestyle by visiting Mark’s Daily Apple, or of course, by getting one of the many books he’s written on the Primal Blueprint. (Nope, I’m not being paid to say that.)

Out with the OLD

The Primal Blueprint involves changing your lifestyle, but let me just say this once: IT IS NOT HARD. So get it out of your head that it is. For starters, here’s what you can leave in your past:

  • Grains, sugars, sweetened beverages. All of it. Processed carbs drive insulin production which can lead to inflammation and fatigue among other issues.
  • Hydrogenated oils. There’s the obvious heavily processed snack foods and packaged baked goods along with deep-fried foods, but this also means no more margarine or “spreads”, canola, corn, or vegetable oils either. All this stuff sets the stage for cancer and heart disease, no matter what it says on the label about being heart-healthy, so pitch it! You’ll have plenty of other primal-friendly options in terms of healthy fats that will leave you way more satisfied.
  • Beans and legumes. These babies are just hard to digest, period. They can mess with your gut big time and therefore your immune system and health in general.
  • Dairy. You don’t haaave to get rid of it, but here’s the thing: most commercial dairy isn’t good for anyone. It’s loaded with hormones and other impurities. If you’re lactose tolerant, opt for organic, pastured butter and heavy cream. YES, that’s right. BUTTER. And HEAVY CREAM.
  • Chronic exercise. I’m talking to you, chick on the elliptical. Time to reject your hours spent in the gym and the idea that reaching a certain number of miles, hours, or weekly workouts is the key to fitness. It’s not.
  • Sedentary patternsNow I’m talking to you, chick in front of the computer. Google “sitting disease” and tell me what you find. How about a lot of fat storage, elevated risk of heart disease, joint pain, muscle weakness, and lack of energy? Get up and move.
  • Poor sleep habits. Just go to bed already. Leave the phone plugged in downstairs, use a real alarm clock, and “shut down” at least an hour (preferably more) before climbing into bed.
  • Somber, spartan approach to lifestyle transformationGet it out of your head that you have to count calories, have rigid portion control and specifically timed meals, limited menu choices, guilt, or binging cycles. Does this sound familiar? Well, it’s over. There’s no strict workout regimen, no struggling, and no suffering. Like I mentioned before: IT IS NOT HARD. You’re welcome.

In with the NEW

Is this starting to sound like something you might be interested in trying? Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It is that good. Here’s what you can look forward to with  your new primal lifestyle:

  • Primal foodsMeat! Fish! Poultry! Eggs! Veggies! Fruits! Nuts! Seeds! High-quality fats! Eat it up and love your life! Guess what else? You can even enjoy your red wine and dark chocolate, too!
  • Primal eating philosophyEat as much of your primal foods as you want, when you want, however often you want. You’ll begin to notice you’re satisfied with less, after meals you don’t feel stuffed or bloated (you feel amazing), and you can indulge sensibly without having the urge to binge because you’re able to enjoy life guilt-free. If you’re anything like me, this will be HUGE for you.
  • Increase daily movementNotice this doesn’t say, “do this exercise five times a week”. Nope. Did you not read that part above? NO MORE of that. Do what makes you happy. Do what you enjoy. Walk more. Use stairs. Take frequent breaks when you have to sit for a long time (i.e., at work, etc). Basically, get off your behind and move around.
  • Brief, intense workoutsThis may be a curve ball or something new to some of you but give it a shot – it’s essential for maintaining high energy levels and a healthy heart and lungs at any age. Go harder but less often and for less time. So, like a 30-minute (or less) strength workout. Sprint intervals for 15 minutes (or less). That’s all… it’s easy, and you don’t have to do this every day.
  • Calming evening rituals. Like I mentioned above, wind down at night to prepare yourself for a healthy night’s sleep. Turn off the tv, put away the technology, dim the lights, use candles, read, chat with your loved one, take a slow neighborhood stroll. You get the idea.
  • FUN approach to lifestyle transformation. This is your chance to explore exciting new foods, recipes, and establish new eating practices. (Side note: I will never forget the first time we tried sun-chokes or kale… and how my cookbook collection expanded to include what are now some of my favorite recipes of all time!) You’re going to start exercising for fun and energy, and best of all – NO MORE OVERTRAINING! You’re going to PLAY more! And probably best of all, you’ll start to enjoy life more with your loved ones, because you’ll be inclined to be less “connected” and more appreciative of spending time with your family and friends. This really does happen, people! (This is the part where I could go on a tangent about diet and digestion and protein and fat and related neurotransmitter production and mental wellness… but I’ll spare you.) ;)

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What to expect…

So aside from the energy levels and new zest for life you can expect to experience by going primal, what are some other benefits from adopting this new way of life? So glad you asked.

  • Anti-agingI can’t explain this as well as Mark does here.
  • AppetiteYou won’t overeat anymore. You just won’t. Adopting the Primal Blueprint literally cured me of my binging tendencies.
  • Blood markersExpect to see some improvement in your cholesterol. But how can that be, eating red meat and butter?! I’m rolling my eyes at you right now. Get your head out of the low-fat-high-carbohydrate-garbage diet myth you’ve been fed for years and start doing your own research.
  • Body fatYou will lose body fat. Can I say that any more simply?
  • Diminished cravings. People don’t believe me when I tell them I just didn’t want grains, junk food, or sweets any more. Sure, I indulged on occasion, but I didn’t miss them in my daily life. Don’t believe me? Guess you’re going to have to experience it yourself.
  • Digestion. If you didn’t already know, your digestion is probably impaired… yours and nearly 90% of Americans’. The Primal Blueprint follows the guidelines of the diet I recommend as a nutritional therapist for optimal digestion, and optimal wellness. Period.
  • Drug-free. This can mean so many things… you’ll soon be ready to ditch your OTC antacids and pain relievers, then, with your doctor’s support, you’ll be able to work toward eliminating many if not all of your prescription meds, too.
  • Immunity. This goes hand in hand with digestion: healing your digestion leads to optimal immune system function. You’ll probably notice getting sick less often and recovering more quickly if you do happen to get run down.
  • Measurements. If you happen to be keeping track, you’ll see these change, too. Your clothes will fit (and look!) better and looser as you decrease body fat, reduce systemic inflammation, and get rid of the bloating and water retention! Where will you see this first? Tush, hips, thighs, waist – the primary storage areas for fat. (YAY!)
  • Muscle mass. Increase or maintain and sculpt muscle mass while dropping body fat. Um, isn’t that basically ideal and what everyone wants? Awesome.
  • SleepYou’ll fall asleep faster, sleep better and more soundly, and begin to awaken naturally (without an alarm), refreshed and energized. No joke.
  • StressDiet alone affects the way our body and mind respond to stress. The Primal Blueprint will help regulate this and reduce fatigue, burnout, and dysfunction that seems to go hand in hand with a hectic modern life.
  • Total fitness. The Primal Blueprint involves functional exercise and a diet that develops and supports a balanced physique and broad physical competency. See that picture above, the one of me doing my best meathead impression and taking selfies in the gym? Ha. Okay take a close look at the picture of me standing. For most of my life, carrying most of my weight around my hips (like many people), I never used to look like that… even and muscular and balanced from head to toe. And I’ll never forget my mom’s reaction when I carried a huge la-z-boy recliner up a flight of stairs by myself. Simply put, you’ll look good, and you can do more – physically – without risk of overtraining or injury.
  • Optimal wellnessEverything listed above and more. Improved bone density. Glucose tolerance. Insulin sensitivity. Improved blood pressure. Hormone balance. How will you know about all of this if you’re not being tested for it? Simple. You’ll feel the best you’ve ever felt.

So… wow. There you have it. Man, I don’t know about you but revisiting this book has me totally reenergized to get back to that lifestyle.

And you? What are you waiting for?! Get the book and join me!

xx

e

P.S. Nope, I wasn’t paid for writing this. (Sadly!) My opinion is legit. I really do love it and recommend it with all my heart. Go for it.

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Be A Gym Rat

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Or not.

I’ve rounded up my top 5 favorite internet workouts… mostly because I wanted to have them all in one place for myself to refer to, but I figured y’all would enjoy this little compilation as well.  Who wouldn’t?  Most of these are free, with the exception of YogaGlo because, let’s be honest, I can’t not include it.

I say “or not” because not all of these workouts require a legit gym membership.  But in the event that you do have one, and you enjoy throwing around a pair of dumbbells or can’t resist checking yourself out in the giant mirror as you do one-legged barbell dead lifts (done it), rest assured, I’ve got you covered.

Side note: I wasn’t paid for any of these endorsements… they’ve all been tried and tested over the years by yours truly and come with an honest recommendation!

  1. Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer.  (for the gym) You’ve probably heard me talk about this one more than once.  It’s my #1 go-to, the one I always come back to, particularly if I’ve spent any amount of time off from working out. Why? Because I hate cardio. Lucky for me, this program starts off with an entire month of strength training ONLY, to get your body ready for month two, where cardio is added into your workouts throughout the week.  That first month is crucial – I develop the habit of going to the gym in the first 30 days doing something I enjoy (lifting weights), and add in the part I don’t enjoy so much after I’m already in the habit of going to the gym… so I might as well do the cardio… genius. (This is really the only workout listed here that includes any amount of cardio, aside from BodyRock which includes quick, interval bursts of cardio like burpees and jumping jacks, etc.)  The workouts in the LiveFit Trainer are fairly simple, and fairly quick, so you don’t spend hours in the gym, because, who has that kind of time?  (Side note: Guys? This isn’t just for the ladies!)
  2. The New Rules of Lifting (For Women). (for the gym) Don’t worry fellas, they have one for you, too. This is not technically a website – it’s book, but it’s worth having on your shelf if you truly want to learn how to lift weights the right way to avoid injuring yourself and most importantly, to get the most out of your workouts. Ladies, this one will get you out of that silly 2-8lb dumbbell mentality, and feeling strong enough for 25lb-ers in no time, which will in turn, show up on your bod in the form of gorgeous, cut, lean muscle mass.  It’s simple, and, my favorite part, the workouts are short.  Trust me and stick with it though, you’re likely to get bored or feel like you’re not doing much, especially if working out is not new to you.
  3. YogaGlo. (at home) Okay, this one isn’t free.  But friends, for the measly price of $18 a MONTH for access to unlimited online classes, I consider it a steal.  Why, you ask?  Because $18 happens to be preeeetty darn close to the going drop-in fee (for a single class) at pretty much any studio in town no matter where you live, AND you’re getting awesome sequences from some stellar well-known teachers such as Jason Crandell (my personal fave), Kathryn Budig, Amy Ippoliti, and many, many more superstars.  You have the option to search by teacher, by style of class, by length, or by level of skill.  It’s the bees knees and my go-to choice for at-home yoga practice.  Love.  (P.S. I’m pretty sure you get a free trial when you sign up for the first time, so it’s worth checking out!) Again, this is not a paid endorsement, I just really do love it that much.
  4. Blogilates. (at home) Do not make fun of me, this is not a joke.  I have a love/hate relationship with Cassey Ho.  Mostly love because I can’t not smile-slash-laugh when she’s talking non-stop through her workouts (warning: some may find this mildly annoying), but also hate because when you’re holding a certain pose or “pulsing” in a pose for 17,045 minutes (what?) while the chatter continues, you may want to collapse and then immediately stab her through your computer screen.  Simmer down, the burn is worth it, and you will be thanking Ms. Ho up and down for your perky new butt in no time.
  5. Bodyrock. (at home) Whoa, this one is not for the faint of heart… and I mean that in ways more than one.  First of all, the workouts are IN. TENSE. and, the first time you’re able to complete a single one (they’re typically around 15 minutes long) you will feel like a damn superhero.  Not even kidding.  Invincible.  The other part of that “not for the faint of heart” thing is… well… what was once a sweet home-movie style free bootcamp workout site created by a husband and wife duo, then turned drama-, break-up-, and slightly soft-porn-filled (complete with the new main hostess/trainer undergoing multiple obvious cosmetic surgeries)… ehh… yeahhh, just a little warning for those of you not expecting the eyeful you may get when you visit the site. Let’s just say it’s not a site I frequent as often as I once did, HOWEVER – that is not to say that the workout content is not still top-notch! It used to require zero to very little equipment (none that you couldn’t makeshift for yourself at home), though now it seems some of the workouts require a bit more home-gym type equipment, probably as a result of the inevitable affiliate links to equipment retailers.  It’s still worth a gander… you may love it, just as I once did.  Let’s be honest, if my bod looked as smokin’ as Lisa-Marie’s, I would be working out in my teeny tiny hot pink bikini, too.  I mean, I’d probably be doing all of my grocery shopping and dog-walking in it, too.  Maybe.  ;)
That’s it for now, but stay tuned AND STAY TONED (that’s right I said it…go ahead, you know you want to laugh… eyeroll, head shake, etc…) I may do another round-up in the near future!
Ciao!
xx
e
*Side note of all side notes: just a reminder that not all workout routines are suitable for everyone and that goes for those listed here or otherwise. To reduce risk of injury, make sure to consult your doctor before beginning any one of these, or any other, workout program. Anyone who chooses to participate in any of the above listed workouts assumes the full risk of injury resulting from performing the exercises as presented. We cool? ;)