Following on from our Real Food Lifestyle top tips social media campaign, here’s a post from Lisa – one half of Paleo & Co, on why Paleo is a lifestyle and how you can make sure you’re making the most of it.
Yes, it gets muttered /shouted a lot in the Paleo community. And yes, it’s a bit of a cliché. But Paleo really is a LIFESTYLE. Whether you are Paleo for health/healing reasons, or simply want to cut out cr*p and feel good, food only goes so far. So, let’s forget grass-fed meat and organic veggies (and even Paleo mayonnaise and avocado oil!) for a minute and look at what else you can incorporate into your life to enjoy the benefits of Paleo.
Number one is definitely getting enough sleep. And by that I don’t mean the traditional advice of ‘go to bed early and wake up at the same time every morning’ – because, a) that doesn’t work in real life and b) everyone has different rhythms. Know why some of us are early risers and some are night owls? Think back to Paleolithic times – some people were on watch duty late into the evening, someone else would take over at dawn. Others would wake throughout the night to check on the watchers. Starting to make sense? (By the way I can’t claim this knowledge as my own – it came up in a panel discussion at Paleo F(x) last year – I think it was Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof coffee guy who said it – but I can’t be sure!)
What I mean by rest and sleep is to do your best to make sure sleep comes easy to you. Whether that means switching off blue light emitting devices 90 minutes before bed or wearing blue blockers like these. Other tips include keeping your room as dark as possible (no lights at all, blackout blinds or curtains, or wear an eye mask – I like this one) and making sure your bedroom is the right temperature (17c is the optimal sleeping temperature).
As with all the rest of these tips, mindfulness links right back to sleep – everything you do in this area will help you sleep better. It also has profound effects on your waking time too though. So, what is mindfulness and how do you find it? Well for me, mindfulness is just about being in the moment. So whether that’s meditating (we LOVE Headspace at Paleo & Co), unplugging for a while, going for a walk without headphones or a phone, walking barefoot on the grass, staring up at the sky – even washing the dishes without thinking about anything else – simply concentrating on each glass, plate or bowl. I’m by no means an expert or ‘mindfulness guru’, but doing these things help me feel calmer, less anxious, more patient, and happier. It’s that simple.
Connecting with nature is a powerful Paleo principle. You get access to natural light (and Vitamin D for free) which will help boost your serotonin and help you sleep (again back to the sleep). So, go for a wander. Whether you want to call it ‘Forest bathing’ or ‘going for a walk in the woods’ (more our style!), there are significant health benefits: According to this article, it has been: “proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing.”
Linked to getting outside (but it doesn’t have to be), playing is often left for the children, but us grown-ups benefit too – from health benefits to social connections – play can have a profound effect. Just take a look at this article. So why should the little ones get all the fun?
Play can be anything from throwing a Frisbee around to listening to music, playing a board game to riding the waves. If you have kids, take them out and follow their lead – roll down hills, look for bugs under rocks, climb trees. Anything, as long as it’s fun.
Moving your body can be part of play, mindfulness or simply movement for movement’s sake (as good a reason as any). It can be as simple as yoga and walking or more strenuous such as boxing. It can be cross fit, running, or gym work – or it can be simple body weight exercises that you ‘snack’ on throughout the day. However you like to get movement into your day, make it Paleo by making it part of your life. To me that means not paying someone to rake leaves or mow your lawn, to give you enough time to drive to the gym and run on a treadmill. It is movement, but it’s not very Paleo!
Probably the hardest one of all for most of us… switching off the electronics. But it is so, so important and beneficial to our health in so many ways. We tried switching off all electronics in the Paleo & Co house for 24 hours and was near on impossible. Listening to music without the iPad or the kids’ CD players for example. What it did do was give us real perspective on how much we rely on electronics in our house. Especially our phones. We wondered what time the coffee shop was open and went to check the phone. We needed to order supplies from Amazon. Had to wait until the next day. The kids wanted to call Grandma. We don’t have a house phone, so they had to wait! You get the picture. This recent New York Times article has some great tips for ‘breaking up with your phone’.
As you can see, so many of these are interlinked. Mindfulness helps you sleep, being outside raking leaves helps you connect with nature, get natural light, get moving and sleep better. Playing helps you move, connect, and sleep. This interconnectedness is one of the reasons that Paleo makes so much sense to me. I hope it makes sense to you too. Let me know in the comments.
Lisa runs Paleo & Co, the online Paleo community and marketplace with her husband Jonathan. She has two young Paleo-ish kids and one very Paleo dog. Find out more here or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.