INNER 007 -- A Paleo Lifestyle is what takes the Paleo Diet and pushes it into all facets of your life. It’s looking at the ways that our Paleolithic ancestors not only survived, but thrived, and uses evolution as a framework for the way you live your life.
Thus, you can create your lifestyle in ways that help improve your everyday existence and help you make the most of it. And after all, isn’t that what Being James Bond is all about?
Mark Sisson, author of the Primal Blueprint and other Paleo-related books (who we mentioned in the last article), likes to codify Primal living in these ten things:
1. Eat lots of animals, insects and plants.
2. Move around a lot at a slow pace.
3. Lift heavy things.
4. Run really fast every once in a while.
5. Get lots of sleep.
7. Get some sunlight every day.
8. Avoid trauma.
9. Avoid poisonous things.
10. Use your mind.
We’ve obviously already given attentions to #1 and #9 in Part 1 of ‘The Paleo Diet’ – eat meats, vegetables, some fruits and nuts, and avoid grains, legumes, and dairy (or at least lessen the dairy). So let’s look at the remaining items today.
Bond went down on his hands and did twenty slow press-ups, lingering over each one so that his muscles had no rest. When his arms could stand the pain no longer, he rolled over on his back and, with his hands at his sides, did the straight leg-lift until his stomach muscles screamed. He got to his feet and, after touching his toes twenty times, went over to arm and chest exercises combined with deep breathing until he was dizzy. Panting with the exertion, he went into the big white-tiled bathroom and stood in the glass shower cabinet under very hot and then cold hissing water for five minutes. - Ian Fleming, From Russia With Love
What do you see when you walk into a modern health club? Rows upon rows of people on treadmills, elliptical trainers, NordicTrak machines, and exercise bikes, and rows of weightlifting machines. A nice, sterile environment with people trying to keep their heart rates up and "burn that fat."
If only our bodies worked that way. What that form of exercise actually does is increase levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is great as a hormone if you live in a society that is free of a lot of outside, constant stress like the modern society, and stress is mostly of the "flight or fight" variety where you need sudden bursts of energy. It causes systems like digestion, endocrine response, immunity, and more to take a back seat while it gets us out of the current predicament and to safety. And if you have a constant high level of stress hitting the body as we frequently do in modern society, we don’t lose weight because proper body function is put on hold.
And one way of avoiding this stress is to walk. Just go for a walk once in a while, but do it regularly. You’ll expend calories, but more importantly a nice walk is a cortisol-reducing activity. And you’ll improve your posture, build some muscle, remove fat, and improve your cardiovascular health without breaking your body down.
What about strength work? The best way to do that is via full-body exercises that work you to exhaustion quickly and don’t concentrate on one muscle or muscle group.
Some choose to do this with weight-lifting. And that’s perfectly acceptable. Lots of Paleo folks will do three or four lifts in the 3-5 rep range two to three times a week and do great. Deadlifts, Squats, Dips, and Weighted Pullups are all great for this – they work huge muscle groups throughout the body and will wear you out quickly. Working the Olympic lifts (snatch and clean & jerk) is also very popular and effective, as are workout routines like CrossFit and kettlebell workouts.
Others choose to do bodyweight routines – lots of pushups, pullups, free squats, burpees, situps, things like that. These are also great – the big benefit is that you can do them anywhere and you can modify them to any degree of difficulty you need.
Mark Lauren’s You Are Your Own Gym – Mark is a former rescue swimmer for the military and has been in charge of their training for a long time. His workouts are all designed for you to kick ass and take names in your own home.
Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Fitness – PBF is free for subscribing to his MDA newsletter – which is minimally invasive in your inbox.
Matt Furey’s Combat Conditioning – Matt is a former NCAA wrestling champion who got me started on this path of fitness without the use of a gym. He’s got a style that really prickles some people – his sites are cheaply done and full of over-the-top testimonials and such – but his knowledge and offerings are awesome.
And every so often, once a week or ten days, go out and do a set of sprints. This can be running, on a bike, swimming, what have you. The important thing is to go all out for a bit and then rest. Do a 100 yard sprint and then walk back to the start. Once you’ve caught your breath, do it again, 5-7 times. Sprinting is what’s called an Acute stressor, as opposed to a chronic stressor (which is like the cortisol-perpetuating items mentioned above), in that it’s localized and temporary – the sort of stressor our body expects to encounter as we escape from the saber-toothed tiger or save our baby from touching the fire or what have you.
A form of exercise that is gaining lots of traction among the Paleo aficionados is MovNat, or Natural Movement – and much of its success has to do with the fact that it incorporates all of the above.
From their website:
MovNat is a fitness system based entirely on using the full range of our natural human movement abilities such as walking, running, balancing, jumping, crawling, climbing, swimming, lifting, carrying, throwing, catching, and self-defense. MovNat is for everyone, it is progressive and safe, and supports physical competence and conditioning for any area of life.
Many "gyms" and trainers are popping up with MovNat certifications now, and if you check their website you’ll see their offerings all over the country from 1-2 day introductory courses, to 5 day immersion courses, and more up to getting certified yourself.
And this style of training is also very James Bond. Look at the novels Live and Let Die and Dr. No: Bond takes time to train with Quarrel in swimming, sprinting, and other natural movement for several days before his work on the infiltration portions of his cases in those books.
“6 - I eat vegetables, fruit, drink water, exercise, and sleep.”
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors got lots of sleep – they rose and slept with the sun’s transit, and for good reason: their days were exhausting and full of activity, and they needed that "down-time" to let the body and mind rebuild themselves. Even an afternoon nap was frequently in the equation for them.
Muscle growth and repair, as well as cellular-level repair and and replacement of aging tissues, happens during sleep. And key hormones for sharpness and mental clarity are boosted when we sleep.
Ideally, the sleep we get should be 8-10 hours per night, with 8 being the most doable by most people. The room should be totally dark as light interrupts proper sleep, and we should have no electronic stimulation for 30-60 minutes before hitting the sack. Electronics like TV, computer and smart phone screens can stimulate the neurons and create a situation where the brain isn’t totally at rest before you hit the sack, so avoid those things before going to bed.
James Bond worked hard, defending the realm against the terrors of SMERSH and SPECTRE, but he also played hard. Gambling, golf, skiing, mountain climbing, driving fast cars, and even his sex life, these activities gave him a chance to unwind and enjoy life.
The health benefits of play are many. They help release healthy pleasure endorphins and reduce the effects of stress in the system by reducing cortisol. They increase social interactivity and allow people to gain all the health benefits of positive interaction with people.
Get Some Sunlight
Every Day One item of Paleo living at which many folks recoil in horror is the advice to get 15 minutes of as-full-body-as-you-can-muster sunlight every day. Bond was constantly suntanned from his trips overseas, and one gets the impression that more he was outside of gloomy London the happier he was. I think this was hardly only due to his love of his work.
Far from being the skin cancer-causing killer that it’s thought of today, sunlight helps our bodies to synthesize cholesterol (see, another place that stuff is useful) into Vitamin D, which helps boost the immune system and has many other amazing benefits to include improvement of attitude and general energy-boosting.
But don’t stay out so long that you sunburn – that actually will cause you problems. Stay out long enough to get some rays, and then cover up with a hat and long sleeves (those Bond tropical shirts will do you well). Avoid sunscreens as they’ll upset the synthesis of Vitamin D.
Basically, don’t take unnecessary risks. Most of Bond’s risks were necessary (aside from his smoking), but there’s no reason for us to look for trouble if we don’t need it. Hunter-Gatherers were careful because they knew they could die from something as simple as a sprained ankle. For us, that sprained ankle is annoying and takes us out of our exercise regimen for a while, but even that isn’t good for us. It’ll also reduce our play and possibly our sleep, and increase our stress levels. Have fun, but be careful when doing so!
Use Your Mind
As Being James Bond followers know, James Bond knows a little bit about everything. He does that by constantly reading. Again, Paul Kyriazi made this one of his 21 rules:
The mind is a muscle – if you don’t use it, you lose it. Having a job where you use your mind regularly will help keep you happy and healthy. If your job is more menial, figure out how to make it more cerebral or adopt cerebral hobbies. Don’t zone out with the TV – read a book or a magazine about a topic that interests you (or listen to a podcast). Studies have been done that show how people who take jobs or hobbies that help them express their natural aptitudes are happier and healthier than those who settle for just making a paycheck or having a comfortable lifestyle (not successful, mind you, comfortable).
James Bond’s lifestyle was, in fact, very Paleo. He ate food that was good for him. He exercised in a way that maximized his body’s potential without causing injury and stress. He played hard, engaged his mind, and enjoyed a good life as much as he could. He took care of his life and made no bones about the choices he’d made in that regard.
We can do the same. Using the science that we benefit from today and a better understanding of how we’ve evolved to be the creatures we are today, we can look at our lives, question everything about them, and engineer them in such a way as to be in harmony with our DNA. We, as a species, are truly the sums of our experiences from the beginning of time, and the forces that acted upon our species throughout that time. Let’s use that to our advantage instead of trying to fight it!