Thursday, September 9, 2010

What is living "Primal"?

Lots of people have been asking me what I mean by living "primally". Really it's a whole change of lifestyle. It's not just a diet to lose weight. Some people start living this way to GAIN weight. Basically, it is just returning back to a natural healthy you. I don't have a goal weight in mind- my goal is to be healthy. I want to live a long happy life, weight loss is just an added bonus to becoming healthier.

While I've been in nursing school I have noticed that most of the patients I've cared for suffer from health problems as a direct result of their lifestyle. I see a lot of Type 2 Diabetes, Emphysema, COPD, obesity, cardiac problems, etc. I hated seeing people (some of them pretty young) going through such suffering. I knew that I had to make a difference in my life or suffer a similar fate.

So I decided to dive into this lifestyle head first. There are lots of facets to living primally. The first and biggest difference was a change in the way I eat. I cut out all processed foods and now try to eat organically as possible. I cut out sugars and starches and eat quality fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and proteins. This has taken a lot of creativity to tweak my favorite foods to make them primal (Like shredding cauliflower instead of eating white rice).

I've also added primal exercise- which includes lifting heavy things, and lots of moderate cardio (5-6 hrs/week). I've also tried to add more play to my life. When was the last time you played tag with your spouse and kids? It's really fun! My brother is great at playing primally. When he was over last year he climbed one of our backyard trees. My kids thought it was so funny! Months later, when I was playing outside with them, they asked me to climb the tree. "Mommy is too big," I said. My oldest was quick to say, "But our Tio isn't too big?" That REALLY made me think. Why can't I climb a tree? Who says grown-ups can't climb trees? So one of my goals is to become physically fit enough to PLAY.

Another aspect to primal exercise is learning to use your body the way our ancestors used to. We didn't sit in chairs or desks all day, and we certainly didn't use the big heavy shoes we wear. When I was in Africa, I noticed the men and women who were over 80 years old still squatting on their heels for hours at a time and being able to stand back up with no problem whatsoever. I want that for myself, too! I just need to figure out how to do it right. I'm also going to read the book "Born to Run" by McDougall. I have been really curious about the barefoot running movement.

Other primal changes I've tried to make to my life include sleeping enough hours every night and getting some sunlight every day. The sleeping thing definitely needs some work right now.

Being in school, having two kids, a job, and a husband who is also in school and has a job is a lot of work! By the end of the night I fall into bed completely exhausted way past a reasonable hour. Then I wake up after too few hours of sleep to a blaring alarm clock. I know it can't be healthy to do this day after day. So this week I'm going to try my best to get to bed at a decent hour. I'm also going to get one of those alarm clocks that gradually wakes you up. We'll see how that goes.

So I have all of these lofty goals set for myself for the next thirty days. I'd also like to make sure I'm playing the piano regularly, doing my oldest's reading workbook with her daily, Family Home Evenings weekly, and scripture study daily. I want to be happy now. I spend too much time waiting for the next milestone in life to think I will finally be content. But if I keep living that way, I'll never be content. So it's time to seize the day!

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