Paleo does not have to be hard. You can make one small change every 3 weeks and Still see results if you stick with it! See Precision Nutrition for a great explanation of this approach.
Food: Paleo is not a diet.
Diet - well let's face it - has the word "die" in it. A diet is something notoriously hard to follow, painful, depriving, and ultimately ineffective. The majority of people who 'go on a diet' will lose weight, then gain back until they are heavier than when they started!
So don't go on a diet. Change your life. It's easier than you think! There are no excuses - you do not need soda to live. Your kids will not die without breakfast cereal. There are ways to make vegetables inexpensive, delicious, and quick. That is my real role here with this blog - to show you what you can do no matter what you have in your pantry, and how to make food delicious and convenient! If you are new to Paleo, start here with Robb Wolf.
I've put together a basic one week menu: This is the culmination of years of study, and each day is balanced for about 2000 calories, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and micronutrients. I have also developed it to flow according to foods prepared ahead of time and account for both budget and variety. Enjoy, and please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions-- it is a continuously developing project!
Sleep: Get more.
Sleep is critical for human function. It is the time for physical repair and mental recuperation. On average, adults need 7-9 hours a night.
- Go to bed the same time every night - even weekends and days off. Your body feels those late nights as something like mini-jet lag...every week.
- How do you know how much You need? ...Don't set an alarm! It's that easy. Start on a day you have off-- don't stay up later than you would on a work night, and see just how many hours you sleep. Even if it's 12 - that's ok! It just means you are pushing yourself hard and your body needs that much more rest until you get a better routine. The next night, pick what time you'd like to wake up and count backwards to figure out your new bedtime, and stick to it! For example, I need 9 hours usually. When I need to be up at 6, I go to bed at 9pm and set an alarm for 6:30. No joke! I never sleep until the alarm unless I really really needed that extra half hour. You'll be amazed at how accurate you can get your body clock.
- Use the bedroom for two things only - Sleep and Sex. No eating, computer, TV, cell phone, banjo, hula-hooping, etc. Your body needs to be trained like any good puppy or toddler- when you get into bed and turn the lights off, it is sleep time. End of story.
- End the light pollution. Your bedroom should be so dark you can't see your hand in front of your face. Get heavy curtains or blinds over the windows, turn over cell phones and put them on silent, and cover anything else that makes light if you can't turn it off -- like computer power lights, LED lights, surge protectors, etc.
- No alcohol or caffeine within 3 hours of bed. Even though alcohol seems like it relaxes you and helps you sleep, it actually acts as a stimulant - much like cigarettes and caffeine - and will cause your sleep cycles to end too early, waking you up in the middle of the night even if you don't realize it.
- Give yourself time. Don't roll over and check the clock or your phone every 2 minutes. If you really feel like it's been 20 minutes and you're no closer to sleep, then get up and go in another room and do something quiet like reading or sipping warm herbal tea. NO TV or computer. After 10 minutes, lights off and try again. Be patient with yourself.
*If you feel your sleep quality is poor despite trying the tips above and even if you give yourself plenty of time, it's time to see your doctor. Yes - Sleep is that important, and poor sleep quality may be related to more serious problems.
Sunlight: Go outside.
If there is no sun where you are - get full spectrum lightbulbs or lamps. Seriously. And regardless of where you live GO OUTSIDE. This is bigger than having an adequate vitamin D level - it's about reconnecting with the Earth system we live in, bringing ourselves in balance with our surroundings. Be barefoot. Go find a tree and breathe some fresh air. Every Day.
For a good read on the subject, here is an excellent essay: Mind Body Earth - True Health
Exercise: Become a functional human.
What does that mean? It means you can climb, jump, roll, squat, and lift objects without pain. It means Strength, Flexibility, and Endurance. If you can't touch your toes - or see your toes - it's time to make a change. That said - fix all the other things first. You can't possibly ask your body to work better faster stronger without good fuel and rest! When you're ready to get fit find yourself a good CrossFit coach so you don't hurt yourself and have good motivation. Don't be an elliptical zombie. Align yourself with like minded people who will support you. You'll never look back.