Written by: Mike Ritter
Marcus Aurelius – “we need more often to be reminded, than informed”
So many people are rocking great diets these days. There’s still plenty of work for me and my peers to do, but the fact is, more people than twenty years ago are getting down with the fact that taking care of yourself feels pretty darn good. The better you feel, things that suck, suck less and the things you love are so much richer in experience.
Back in Austin this weekend, I sat down for dinner with a friend who I haven’t seen since high school. We chatted about family, our professional lives and then he finally asked the burning question: “So what is this paleo stuff all about?”
A million things ran through my head.
I was fresh off my second day at PaleoFX and it delivered big time in 2016. Just one hour prior, I was listening to some of the most intriguing people in the natural wellness scene.
Even as fairly seasoned as I am at answering this question, I wondered how do I sum this up?
Although the basis for the paleo ‘thing’ begins with the traditional grain/dairy/legume/sugar casualties, it wasn’t hard to see that many people still want to know:
‘What the hell is Paleo?’
I started explaining to him a line of thinking that has helped me throughout my coaching career.
“It starts with the question ‘Are you happy: yes or no? If no, something isn’t allowing your genes to express themselves optimally. We can throw 30 day challenges out all we want but that may or may not work for someone who has awful sleep, erratic hormones and no will power. This is just about looking at how humans live when they are the healthiest, and turn the knobs from there.”
He said, “So you don’t have to eat like a caveman?” I said, “No. However, I did just learn how to butcher a chicken a few hours ago…”
The truth is, you can take a very informed yet intuitive approach to your health. Everyone can fantasize a one size fits all approach is out there, but it’s not. There are still many people out there still looking for an answer. Your health will always revolve around your hormone balance, access to the best foods, sleep, recovery, cognition, and your social circle. If you need help in one of those categories, I have a condensed list to pick some bad ass resources who love to help, care about doing good work and will point you in the right direction towards mastering insane health.
1. Hormones are awesome
Adrenal dysfunction (HPA axis dysregulation) from counterproductive lifestyle choices is a real epidemic that is just starting to get enough attention. We’re talking about systems that are influenced by diet, exercise and emotional stress which, in turn, influence future diet and exercise choices. If you’re sex hormones are all whacked out, life becomes one big crap shoot. If you need help with stress management and balance, try my ebook “Balance Stress” at resultcult.com.
Ben House rocked the mastermind stage at PFX16 with a talk called “Testosterone. Period.”
– crush veggies: the antioxidants, zinc and magnesium you get from veggies provide cofactors for T production and help fight against oxidative stress which inhibits T production.
– reign in the stress. “People are more worried about things that haven’t happened than things that are happening to them right now. We gotta stop that. That’s stupid.”
– exhaust all good diet, rest practices before attempting clinical hormone replacement therapy.
-Go to bed!
Christ Masterjon’s talk “Using Fat-Soluble Vitamins to Boost Sex Hormones Naturally”
- Vitamin D– some mid-day unprotected sun exposure, not enough to burn; regular use of fatty fish and egg yolks, preferably pastured. Calcium from dairy products, bones and leafy greens.
- Vitamin A– liver once a week, or cod liver oil daily to supply ~3000IU/d of retinol. A rich array of red, orange, yellow and green vegetables to supply carotenoids (includes red palm oil.)
- Vitamin K– daily use of leafy greens (K1), animal fats (K2 as MK-4) and fermented foods (K2). Egg yolks and aged cheese are easiest sources to gain access.
- Get all these fat soluble vitamins with a fat-inclusive meal.
- Vegetables are less reliable sources of vitamin A as the conversion rate after digestion is 3-25% for most plant foods.
2. Food freedom is awesome:
Vegans, vegetarians, paleo/primal eaters: listen up. We all want the right to choose exactly what we eat. State and federal legislation impedes on our inherent right to choose how we feed ourselves and it takes a group effort to make representatives understand our desire for fairness. Food labeling, farm-to-consumer restrictions and a lack of transparency from large producers are driving consumers into a false sense of food quality and safety.
Take small steps for a big impact:
– Join farm to consumer defense fund right now.
– visit Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance– Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) is a national organization that supports independent family farmers and protects a healthy and productive food supply for American consumers. FARFA promotes common sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems
– Call your state congressman. An email won’t make as big of an impact as a phone call. In most states it will only take 5 phone calls from citizens for a state congressman to bring an issue to the floor and 20 to swing a vote.
“A vote for what”, you ask?
Food safety regulations are pretty awesome. We all want to be sure that someone is taking care of the salmonella, listeria and the occasional recluse farmer. It isn’t turning out quite that way though. Many small scale farmers or private growers are being intimidated to great degrees for, well….being small farmers (see blog post “Harvesting Criminals“). To a shockingly frequent occurrence, private land owners are getting real life police officers at their doorsteps for selling milk to their neighbor. That may sound like a fictional tale, but it’s not.
State legislatures are constantly voting up or down bills which help or hinder your rights to make the personal decision of where your food comes from.
3. Sleep is awesome
For most people, overhauling diet and exercising habits sounds horrible. In all seriousness, a cupcake sounds a lot better than kale, and sitting on the couch is much more enticing than burpees; at least to our genes. Because of our historical abundance of movement demands and relative scarcity of food, our genes signal us to rest whenever possible and eat as often as possible. In historical context that system worked out. In a world where movement demands are actually scarce and food is abundant, we’re a bit behind the 8-ball. The ironic thing is that lifestyle also inhibits good sleep, which influences hormones, willpower, digestion, physical strength and aging. Yeah…sleep rocks
We give a lot of press to Dr. Kirk Parsley, and deservingly so. His talk on the mastermind stage brought the power of sleep home.
Highlights from the talk:
lack of sleep makes you:
– dumb- lack of REM Sleep crushes your memory and capacity for problem solving.
– weak- hormones like testosterone get depleted with broken sleep.
– overweight- poor sleep raises cortisol and dysregulates blood sugar putting on the pounds.
If you’re struggling with diet, targeting your sleep will open doors for you. Doc Parsleys website and sleep cocktail is solid and now comes in Apple Cinnamon!
4. Experimenting is awesome-
Ben Greenfield is an acclaimed strength and conditioning coach, triathlete and informed biohacker. The guy really takes his performance seriously and experiments with all kinds of alignment, breathing and temperature exposures to eek out another ounce of competitive advantage. It just so happens that biohacking can help each and every one of us. I’ll give you some examples from his talk
– Use a metal coffee filter instead of a paper one. Caffeine itself is a complex compound and paper filters inappropriately accost your caffeine compounds as they pass through the filters.
– Hot/Cold Therapy- alternating between cold shower and sauna helps speed up joint and muscle recovery and beat jet lag.
– Jaw alignment has a profound effect on the vagus nerve, organ function and daily energy. A simple jaw impingement can impede its signal to the almighty vagus nerve.
– Kundalini breathing– it’s best to watch this video. My nervous system was en fuego after a minute of this. It’s like a natural opiate.. Don’t quote me on that
5. Choosing better friends is awesome
They say you are the average of your 5 best friends (probably your Instagram feed too). If you want a better, healthier life, roll with others who want the same thing. Hang with people who know more about what you want to know about. Create an environment in which you can thrive the way you wish instead.
Humans are pack animals. Companionship brings comfort, innovative ideas and most of all influence – bad or good. Who is your pack?