The Paleo diet is one of the hotter diet fads to take the weight-loss world by storm in recent years. In case you’ve been living under a rock or something, the Paleo diet intends to return the human diet back to what it was like back before In ‘N’ Out or the Internet was a thing: the Stone Age. The idea is that you should only eat what our great-great-great-great-great forefathers could have hunted or gathered.
The presumed historicity or (to borrow a term from the Colbert Report) truthiness of the Paleo diet is shaky. Seriously, how were our hunter/gathering ancestors supposed to make coconut oil or coconut flour? But the main take away is great: instead of relying on a diet that is heavy in processed carbs, sugars, and grains, the human body is better suited to eating a diet based in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and animal proteins.
Fans of the Paleo lifestyle point to agriculture as the root of all evil, as it were, to skyrocketing obesity rates around the world. In a way, that’s true — ever since settling down, humans have relied on grains as a staple crop. Farming graines allowed cities, cultures, and countries to develop. It’s why we have books and the Internet. You can’t invent things when you’re too busy worrying about where you’re going to get your next meal.
Now, I’d love to write a blog post about why people in antiquity ate rice and grains and didn’t get obese, but that’s another topic for another time. I’m not surprised that this way of eating has wildly successful, because adherents are eating what we’d normally call “super clean.” What DOES surprise me, however, that this effort to return to the primal roots of the human species hasn’t expanded to the realm of movement and lifestyle. Yes, the humans living in the past were hunter-gathers. But they definitely weren’t office workers or data analysts, they didn’t drive cars or watch TV, or anything else that presupposes a lot of sitting.
So if we’re going to go Paleo, let’s go full Paleo. Let’s bring the primal movement into our functional movement as well.
Hear me out: when people want to talk to me about working out, a suprising number of people complain about hip, shoulder, and back pain. They can’t do certain movements because it hurts, so they’re convinced they can’t do that movement. Ever again. Forever. Now, these people tend to sit a lot. Trust me, I didn’t think that being a scholar would be so detrimental to my physical health. I’m still surprised I could get an upper body injury from sitting at a computer. But our bodies simply weren’t made for constant sitting. They were made for moving. For hunting and gathering! Have you ever fallen asleep with your neck at a weird angle and then your neck hurts and is all weird when you wake up? That, dear readers, is what you are doing to your hips, shoulders, and lower back when you sit at a desk and a computer all the time.
I bet you’re doing it right now.
The good news? You can correct the issues you’re creating simply by being a human living in 21st century. You’ll feel better, move better, and vastly improve your quality of life. They aren’t sexy movements — I know I feel like a dork when everyone else is doing spiderman walks and I’m doing a T-spine stretch (and yes, Tony, that’s a sexy movement. You don’t know it until you can’t do it) — but I’ve been pain free for the first time in three years while working out AND — and this is perhaps more important — sitting at a desk working.
By focusing on primal movements, you can bring the paleo lifestyle into your fitness routine, and vastly improve your quality of life.
Join us. Go full Paleo.