5 Steps to Paleo Lifestyle Success
Are you looking to live healthier, searching for a plan that allows you flexibility, and that you can actually stick to? Forget the crash diets that set you up for failure. Instead, focus on a change that ensures long-term success.
Implementing a healthy lifestyle not only means changing your diet, but also shifting your mindset, and focusing on overall wellness in every aspect of your life. Here we will look at how a Paleo lifestyle can fit this mold.
Before outlining how to make this lifestyle work for you, it is important to note why it is recommended in the first place.
I have seen a Paleo lifestyle work in my life, and many others. It provides a template to build a healthy life, with simple, straightforward, and logical key components.
Paleo is often confused with the “caveman diet,” consisting mostly of animal protein. While it does have roots in this traditional style, modern Paleo has greatly improved and moved beyond the conventional stereotype. Newer interpretations focus on nourishing yourself from the inside out. They emphasize fueling your body with food it recognizes and needs to sustain optimal health and avoiding irritants that break down our delicate internal system.
A healthy lifestyle should encourage us to care for ourselves mentally and physically, and shift the way we look at our world. Help us understand how our food is treated and prepared, where it comes, and its effect on the environment. Which is exactly what Paleo is to the millions that follow the lifestyle.
Most importantly, this is a lifestyle that can be achieved by anyone. Because despite what many may think, it is flexible.
1. Start With the Basics
A Paleo lifestyle at its core focuses on eating real foods and avoiding irritating foods. This includes the following food fundamentals:
- Real food translates to food in its natural form. Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit, wild seafood, pastured or grass-fed animal protein and eggs, healthy natural fats, and nuts and seeds.
- Put an emphasis on vegetables. Yes, meat is welcome here, but 2/3 of your plate should be filled with vegetables. They are the nutritional powerhouses.
- Consuming real foods provides our body the highest value. Think of real food as premium fuel for our bodies, the better the fuel, the more efficient our engines will run.
- Irritating foods include items that are known to cause internal complications. For example dairy, gluten/grains, sugar, and legumes are common allergens and difficult for our bodies to digest. And we know improper gut health leads to a host of problems.
- Processed and modern manufactured products fall into this same category. Items such as vegetable/canola oil, corn syrup, imitation sweeteners, preservatives, dyes, and other fillers cause similar issues.
- All of these irritating foods compromise our immune system, cause inflammation, and even lead to disease.
After understanding these basics, you have built the foundation for successful implementation.
In order to implement this lifestyle, and make sure you stick to it, begin by removing all offending foods from your home. Give or throw them away, then begin rebuilding your pantry and refrigerator with Paleo staples.
The following is a sample of foods to add:
Paleo Pantry Items
- Paleo flours (Arrowroot Starch, Almond Flour, Coconut Flour, and Tapioca Flour)
- Cold pressed and unprocessed olive, avocado, and coconut oil
- Pastured lard, tallow, and duck fat
- All natural no-salt-added wild tuna, salmon, and sardines
- Gluten-free spices and herbs
- Organic raw nuts and seeds
- Raw honey and maple syrup
Paleo Refrigerator/Freezer Items
- Loads of fresh vegetables and fruits
- Pasture raised/grass-fed beef, lamb, chicken, and pork
- Wild caught seafood
- All natural, gluten-free, sugar-free sausage and bacon
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Homemade or natural coconut and nut milk
- Ghee and grass-fed butter (if you can tolerate dairy)
- Frozen vegetables
When possible, purchase organic vegetables and fruit. These items have the highest quality and least amount of pesticides. At the very least, visit the EWG‘s annual list of foods to buy organic and follow their Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen guidelines.
Once you successfully restock your home with real foods, you can begin diving into the exciting world of healthy cooking.
3. Incorporate Healthy Living
Paleo is not a diet only focusing on food. There are many other important factors that come into play, which is meant to help you foster a healthy body and mind. These include:
- Focus on sleep. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night, especially if you are working to heal a condition. Practice good sleep hygiene to ensure quality sleep, in addition to quantity.
- Add in gentle exercise. Many of us have been there, and by now it is well known that overdoing cardio workouts can be unhealthy. Over-exercising is a common issue and one that can lead to numerous disorders. Include gentler practices such as Yoga, Pilates, walking, hiking, and strength training that encourage healing and development.
- Practice mindfulness. Most agree happiness is a state of mind, and the Harvard School of Public Health links our happiness to our health. If you are suffering from a negative body image, an eating disorder, depression, or any other mental obstacle, it is paramount you address this alongside your healthy living plan. Our bodies cannot heal without a healthy mind.
This may be the most important step, especially to commit yourself to the lifestyle in the long run.
When first beginning a new regimen, many find it best to stick to strict rules. Because this is likely a major shift in the way you eat and care for yourself, adopting a set of definitive rules prevents you from falling off the wagon.
Once you master the basics, you can begin making adjustments and substitutions. Some examples include:
- If you can handle dairy, sample grass-fed butter and raw or grass-fed milk and cheese.
- If you can tolerate grains, see if white rice, white potatoes, and even organic corn work for you.
- Test special occasion Paleo baked goods and bread. Let loose a little, but be sure and take note of how you feel and react to these foods.
- To invigorate your workouts, add 1-2 short High-Intensity Interval Training each week, try out a new sport, or create a regimen with a friend.
Basically, see what works for you specifically and add these elements into your lifestyle. Experiment and have fun.
5. Celebrate Your Success and Share the Love
Last and certainly not least, recognize how far you have come. Adopting a new lifestyle and creating a healthier you is an undertaking, and you should be proud of yourself.
Also, keep in mind there are likely others you know, and many you don’t, who can benefit from your experiences. Help others find solace and connections through all you have learned.
Try a few of these examples to celebrate your successes and pass your knowledge on to others:
- Connect with others in your immediate area, or join an online group. Make friends with those in similar situations, hold each other accountable, share recipes, and congratulate each other on successes. Make a community for yourself to further engrain the lifestyle into your every day.
- Celebrate milestones, such as 30 days Paleo, 6 months, 1 year and so on. Share these accomplishments with your family, friends, and Paleo community.
- Share your experiences with others. In whatever way you find comfortable, be it writing in an online forum, guest posting on a blog, speaking to others, or networking. Getting your message out in the world may help another person find relief, health, and happiness.
Are you looking to adopt a healthy lifestyle? Have you thought about trying Paleo? Let us know in the comments below.