10 Primal Laws For Bootcampers

Exercise, Health, Nutrition, Strategies, Weight Loss Add comments

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but instead will interest his patients in the care of the human fram, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison

Paleo eating and primal living are Big Topics in the health and fitness world.  What does it mean to “go Primal”?

Basically, it means eating the foods your body way designed to eat and living the way your body was designed to live, with the purpose of fitness and health in general, and often weight loss in particular.

Heading up the Primal movement is a cool guy named Mark Sisson:

He wrote the indispensable Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy, one of the most highlighted books on my shelves.

Primal (for the sake of brevity I’m going to drop the /paleo today :)) living allows your genes to express themselves in certain ways.  What do I mean?

Simple example: I have a tattoo on my forearm.  Think of that as a certain gene.  Maybe the gene for Type 2 Diabetes.

Whether I wear long sleeves or not determines if my tattoo will show, that the gene will be expressed.

In this example my sleeves represent my lifestyle.  If I exercise, eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and meats, and stay away from booze, grains, and sugars, the diabetes gene won’t have a chance to be expressed.  It’s like wearing long sleeves.

If I skip the gym and eat whatever I want, it’s like rolling up my sleeves and letting the diabetes gene be expressed – my lifestyle determined I would get diabetes.

The gene was there the whole time, what determines if the gene goes into action or not is your lifestyle.

As Mark says: You Have To Fit Your Genes To Fit Into Your Genes.

To have the kind of lifestyle that allows your “skinny genes” and healthy genes to be used, you can follow simple Primal guidelines.  Here are Mark’s 10 Primal Laws…

1.  Eat Lots Of Plants And Animals

I believe nutrition is the single biggest thing you can do to lose weight and get awesome health.  And the two biggest things you can do to improve your nutrition are to eat more vegetables and to eat more animal protein.

You should aim to have some complete protein in every meal, as well as a bunch of veggies.

2. Avoid Poisonous Things

This one is a doozy!  No one goes around drinking drain cleaner, but we put things into our bodies that are almost as bad.

Grains, soy, sugar, alcohol – all poisons.

Even if you’re just interested in weight loss and don’t give a damn about your health, poison foods will still completely reverse your progress.

See, if you’re eating foods that your body has to fight (ex: grains), it won’t be able to absorb the good nutrients from your meats and vegetables PLUS it won’t let you lose any fat.

You know how an infected cut swells up?  The swelling helps fight all the funk from the infection.

As soon as you ditch grains, soy, sugar, and alcohol, all the bloating in your body starts going away.  Why the bloat?

Basically, your body was swelling to help it fight off foreign invaders.

Getting rid of poison foods will make sure all the effort you put into diet and exercise won’t go to waste.

3. Move Frequently At A Slow Pace

Another tricky one.  Back in paleolithic days, humans had to walk all over the place.

We didn’t run, we WALKED.  If we ran around and burned all our energy, we’d be screwed if we didn’t find food right away.

Almost no one goes for leisurely walks or hikes any more.  We have to turn it into an exercise challenge.  Whoever has the highest heart rate wins.

Walking does all sorts of good things for your body.  Yes, it burns some calories, but that’s not why to do it.

Walking gets you outside, walking is relaxing, walking through the forest can actually help fight cancer, walking just plain feels good.

My advice: Go for a walk outside a few times a week, on the weekends get up in the hills and go for a fun hike with family and friends.

4.  Lift Heavy Things

“Lifting heavy things” doesn’t mean hitting the weight room 3 hours a day to try and look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It means resistance training.

Part of Primal living was moving rocks, climbing trees, dragging dead deer, lunging down to pick berries, pulling a travois, and all sorts of other full-body movements.

Dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, sandbags, tires, and my favorite – your won bodyweight – are all things you can use for resistance training.

5.  Sprint Once In A While

Sprinting doesn’t mean lacing on some old New Balance Joggers and heading down to the track, it just refers to moving very fast (for your level).

Interval Training on a bike, treadmill, or rowing machine works great.

So does rocking out a fast set or bodyweight exercises.

So does jumping rope.

Moving quickly is very Primal – imagine a bear was chasing you and if you didn’t make it to a tree you’d die.  No one moves with that kind of intensity any more.

6.  Get Adequate Sleep

Getting enough sleep is a HUGE piece of the weight loss equation.

If you don’t sleep your body will start craving simple sugars, completely screwing up your eating plan.

No rest means you won’t recover from your workouts, instead of building a healthy body you’ll just be digging yourself into a hole.

No sleep means you won’t be able to bring any energy to your workouts.  It SUCKS trying to do fast bike sprints when you didn’t sleep the night before.  You go so slowly you wonder why you’re even doing them at all.

Some simple things you can do to sleep better are: no TV or computer an hour before bed (the light from the monitor interferes with sleep hormones), no booze or caffeine in the evening, get exercise during the day, get sunshine as early as possible, and eat lots of meat and veggies.

7.  Play

So many people drop the ball on this one.

No one ever goes out and has fun anymore.

I love going to the beach and tossing a football around with friends, wrestling with my cousins’ kids, climbing trees, shooting hoops with my dad, and just enjoying life and movement.

The biggest mistake I see people making with play is this:  They play to get in shape, they don’t get in shape to play.

Weekend Warriors go out and play flag football without building up their leg strength, shoulder health, and agility, and they get hurt.

Go out and play to have fun, as you get in better shape you’ll be able to totally dominate more intense games.

8.  Get Adequate Sunlight

Did you know getting more sunshine will reduce cholesterol levels?  It’s true!  Your body uses cholesterol as part of the vitamin D making process.  It’s one reason why your cholesterol levels test higher in the winter than in the summer.

Vitamin D prevents a lot of diseases and is essential for healthy teeth, bones, nails, eyesight, and the absorption of other vitamins and minerals.

Going out and getting burned is a Bad Idea.  20 or 30 minutes of sunshine a day (maybe during your walk!) will help you keep your vitamin D tank topped off.

(Oh yeah, smaller daily doses of sun have been shown to actually PREVENT skin cancer!).

9.  Avoid Stupid Mistakes

“Hey!  I’m going to make my New Year’s Resolution to run a marathon!  Tomorrow I’ll go out and see how far I can run!” <- Stupid Mistake

“Exercise sucks!  I’d rather be fat!”  <- Stupid Mistake

“But I don’t liiiiiiiiiiike vegetables!”  <- Stupid Mistake

“I worked out so I deserve this treat!”  <- Stupid Mistake

Back in paleo days, stupid mistakes could kill you fast.  “I’m going to poke that tiger with a stick!”  <- Stupid Mistake

Stupid mistakes can still kill you fast (“Screw the seatbelt!”), but most of the stupid mistakes we make are smaller ones:  Skipping breakfast, ditching workouts, going to bed without brushing your teeth.

As a guy who makes more stupid mistakes than anyone else (“Watch me jump off that roof!”), I can tell you that the fewer dumb mistakes you make, the better your life is going to be.

10.  Use Your Brain

Our Primal ancestors had to learn or die.  They had to observe what was going on around them and constantly solve problems.

Most of what we do now isn’t life or death, and we don’t have to track down our own meat anymore, but I’m always amazed at how people let themselves stagnate.

They never try anything new.  They never learn anything new.  I have no idea why.

It’s been shown that doing sudoku or word puzzles can help prevent dementia (I play games on Luminosity.com when my brain is feeling sluggish).

I figure that you can get even more bang for your mental buck by doing “body sudoku” – exercise puzzles that challenge your brain to learn something new while kicking your health and fat loss into overdrive.

An example would be the Spiral Squat – something totally out of the box for 99.9% of gym-goers, yet a great exercise and mental stimulant:

Just remember Rule Nine: Avoid Stupid Mistakes when you’re learning new exercises.  If you can’t get off the toilet without straining, don’t try a rock-bottom twisting squat, ok?


To put these Ten Primal Laws into your daily routine, here’s a painless method:  Pick one Law a week and get on it.  Or even one Law every 2 weeks.

Make each one a habit before you add the next.

Pretty soon you’ll be wearing your Skinny Genes :p

Talk soon,

~ Luke

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