When John Durant’s new book The Paleo Manifesto arrived in my mailbox, I rolled my eyes and left it to die in the mountainous stack of unread books atop my bookcase.
The last thing I wanted to read was another paleo book that said exactly what the last one said. I’ve got better things to do.
BUT…after John sent me a Facebook message inquiring about a spot on the radio show, I decided to flip through his Manifesto and was happy to see very few mentions of gluten, lectins, 30-day challenges, and other common paleo topics.
Instead I saw sections on gorillas in captivity, Moses, hot air balloons, the science of disgust, the Bambi Effect, and a bunch of other cool topics seldom broached in the paleo space.
And when I finally had a chance to read John’s book this week, I was no less than blown away by how thoughtful, historic, and engaging The Paleo Manifesto turned out to be. When I got to the end I was actually bummed that it was over.
He should write a sequel.
Mr. Durant joined me this afternoon for what I had a feeling would be a classic episode of Underground Wellness Radio.
Click the player at the bottom of this post to listen to the entire show.
Here are my notes!
1:30 – Great news about our upcoming Real Food Con FREE online event!
4:35 – How John became fascinated with the paleo lifestyle.
5:33 – What humans can learn from zoos and animals in captivity.
8:28 – How to tweak the human habitat to produce a healthy species.
10:30 – Do we need to replicate Paleolithic man and woman to be healthy?
11:48 – Was Moses a microbiologist?
13:50 – “Life was good. We ate something we shouldn’t have. Now life is bad.”
14:26 – The emergence of religions as humans became city dwellers faced with the reality of infectious disease.
15:07 – Wash your hands! Mosaic law’s obsession with hygiene and cleanliness.
18:52 – Why the Israelites were exempt from the plagues.
20:24 – The Torah forbids pork and shellfish, then why are they okay to eat now?
23:26 – How biohacking lies at the very core of evolution.
26:00 – Why things get worse before they get better when there is a change of habitat.
27:16 – Homo Invictus: How the human species moves forward by unknowingly pushing the limits of our existence and discovering novel habitats.
30:32 – The art of standing. How some of the world’s greatest thinkers worked while standing up. Plus, quick tips for adding some stand-up to you life.
34:40 – How standing up can raise testosterone levels.
35:55 – The connection between our obsession with reducing fevers and the rise of cancer.
40:40 – How the decline in hunting is becoming an environmental problem, including overpopulation, starving animals, and invasive species.
45:45 – The power of disgust and how it can drive moral judgments, including judgments regarding food and the people who eat “disgusting foods”.
49:41 – The boycott on milk. How the vegetarian refusal to support ethical farms hurts the food system.
52:05 – Eating local. Why John thinks the concept of reducing food miles is deeply flawed.
58:50 – 2012 German Study. Does the lack of meat in a vegetarian diet cause a mental disorder? Or does the mental disorder drive the decision to become vegetarian?
That’s exactly what went through my head when I heard that Mark Sisson had a new book on the way.
In my opinion, the last thing the world needs right now is yet another Paleo book recommending that we eat real food and remove grains and dairy from our diets.
I think I’ve read that book about 15 times — with 15 different authors and titles — in the past year or so.
Besides, Mark did an outstanding job teaching us what to eat in The Primal Blueprint. What more could he have to offer in his latest opus The Primal Connection?
The answer is quite a bit. In fact, The Primal Connection has little, if anything, to do with diet. It’s about all of that other stuff.
That other stuff has become one of my favorite topics these days. Yes, we know that our dietary choices can have a dramatic impact on gene expression, switching the good (or bad) genes on or off. But it doesn’t end there.
Environmental factors — social interactions, sunlight exposure, our inner dialogue, and even laughter — can have just as profound an effect on our genes as what we stuff into our mouths. I’ll give you a few examples:
Did you know that laughter turns on the genes that fire up your immune system by increasing production of NK (natural killer) cells responsible for defending against cancers, infections, and other bugs?
I remember learning in my CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coaching course that the average person chuckles just once a day. A chuckle. That’s not even a full-blown laugh!
Did you know that simply being touched can turn on the gene that controls the receptor for the stress hormone cortisol, thus reducing its effects?
These days, being touched brings to mind allegations of sexual harassment more than its potential to mitigate the effects of stress.
Or, did you know that your genes expect you to spend time in nature? The sights, sounds, and smells are all hardwired into your DNA. In fact, the Japanese are finding tremendous hormonal and cellular benefits as a result of what they call “forest therapy”.
When was the last time you got “nature-fied” — a hike, a climb, a dip in the ocean?
These are but a few examples of how your overall health is determined in large part by what you do in between meals and workouts. We are meant to laugh, play, touch, love, socialize, sleep, get dirty, relax, and even get an adrenaline rush here and there.
Your diet may be amazing, but are you feeding your genes everything else they expect?
Are your truly living?
Last night, Mark and I spent an hour chatting about everything non-food related on UW Radio. My favorite part was our discussion of his Ten Habits of Highly Effective Hunter-Gatherers…
#1. Take responsibility
#2. Be selfish
#3. Build a tribe
#4. Be present
#5. Be curious
#6. Trust your gut
#7. Pick your battles
#8. Get over it
#9. Sharpen your spear
#10 Be affluent
Click the video below to listen to a short clip on Taking Responsibility and Being Selfish. Or click the mini-player to listen to the entire episode.
Anyone who can take books like Rework (about streamlining success and increasing productivity for entrepreneurs and small businesses), Good to Great (about how companies achieve enduring greatness), and Against All Odds (the autobiography of James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson vacuum) and apply them to fat loss and personal transformation is my kind of guy.
Heck yeah it was good! Rarely do I ever read a book straight through. But when Dean shared the epiphany he had after 25 years of eating “healthy” while still carrying around an extra 50 pounds of body fat, I was hooked.
In Dean’s words…
“There was no reason to believe that this time around would be different, and yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was onto something this time because my epiphany focused not on how to lose weight, but rather on how to think about weight-loss. Twenty-five years of doing “stuff” hadn’t worked. This time I needed to be different, and in order for me to be different, I needed to think different.”
Word up, Mr. Dean.
How many years have you been fighting the battle?
How many diets have you tried with only temporary success — or none at all?
If you’ve been on the fat loss train since the Clinton administration, deboarding at every dietary stop — South Beach City, Atkinsville, Low-Fat Francisco — but you’ve got no souvenirs to show for it, it might be time to ponder what the common denominator is in all of this…
As I touched on in THIS BLOG, faulty thinking is often the root cause of failed attempts at fat loss and lifestyle modification. To review…
Thoughts determine our feelings.
Feelings determine our actions.
Actions determine our results.
Dean’s epiphany to be different by thinking different was the impetus for the twenty shifts — defined as subtle changes in thinking that in turn allowed the subsequent shift to come more easily, until the accumulation of shifts resulted in a complete mental overhaul — outlined in his book.
As I wrote last week, one small success on top of another small success on top of yet another small success eventually becomes one BIG success.
Speaking of success, Dean has managed to subtly shift his protruding late-forty-something-year-old white belly (his words, not mine) into a set of six-pack abs.
That’s a lot less carrots, Mr. Dwyer! (You’ll get that joke once you read the book.)
So…are YOU ready to make some shi(f)t happen?
I hope so, because today I’m going to share a handful of shifts and advice from Dean’s book that you can put into action TODAY.
Let’s DO this shi(f)t!!!
DO What Fits. Sorry for repeating myself, but small shifts lead to what Dean calls seismic change. But if you’re on-the-go all hours of the day, a diet program that requires you to cook every meal from scratch just ain’t gonna work. It doesn’t fit into the context of your life! Instead, do some Googling to see if there is a ready-to-eat healthy meal store like Fitzee Foods nearby that you can stop by to pick up your meals for the week.
Or if your latest fat loss regimen requires that you do an hour a day on the treadmill plus weights, how long do you think you’ll be able to stick with it? That doesn’t fit either! Like Dean says, if you don’t see yourself doing it five years from now, it’s definitely not for you.
Instead, you can work out at home for 30 minutes most days of the week using just your body weight and minimal equipment. No travel time. No gym dues. No awkward locker room moments. And no ridiculous fantasies of doing things that you simply don’t have time for.
If it doesn’t fit, it’s not going to stick!
Ignore Most (But Not All) Experts. Most fat loss and health gurus out there don’t know shi(f)t! What they know is what worked for them, lacking any and all awareness of the FACT that there are different solutions for different people. As Dean points out, be on the lookout for experts who focus on outcomes while omitting the details, ones who push products over principles, and those that make you dependent on their products and services.
This reminds me of when I was a personal trainer and the veterans would advise me to teach my clients just enough to make sure that they came back for more sessions. That never sat well with me. I’m a “teach a man (or woman) how to fish” kind of guy. This ain’t no seafood restaurant.
Become an Expert on YOU! I get a LOT of email from people asking me if I could tell them EXACTLY what to eat — how many grams of this and grams of that to throw down their pie hole. My answer is always this: I don’t know! Find out what works for you by keeping a diet log, tracking not only what you eat but also how you feel after each meal. There’s a really good one included in my e-book The Dark Side of Fat Loss.
Let. Me. Be. Clear. There is no one on the face of this Earth who can tell you exactly what foods you should eat and in what ratios you should be eating them. No one!
And this brings us to the next shift….
Think in Beta. I love this one since Dean snagged the idea from the aforementioned book Rework, which may have been the last book I read cover-to-cover in one sitting prior to Dean’s opus.
Here’s the deal — when a software program is in beta you expect there to be glitches and bugs. The developer uses this trial period to capture user feedback so that the functionality of the program may be improved upon. Once the bugs are worked out, an upgraded 2.0 version is released.
As Dean writes, we need to get our beta on! In other words, it would be unrealistic to expect ourselves to get this whole fat loss thing right the first time around. Necessity is the mother of all invention. What I mean is that in order to become the expert on YOU — to become the 2.0 version — you have to go through some trial-and-error first to find out where the glitches are. Once you figure out what you need, then you can create a solution for yourself. And the solution is probably not someone else’s program.
Didn’t I write about this last week?
If you’re walking on a path that’s already trodden, you know it’s not yours.
Experiment on yourself and work out the beta bugs. Be mindful of what’s working and what’s not. Again, log your meals. (No, you won’t have to do this forever.) Monitor your post-meal body language. What is your body saying to you? Manipulate your macronutrient ratios — the percentage of proteins, fats, and carbs. Keep an eye on your measurements and how your clothes fit.
Remember, you are a complex being, so getting your beta on can take weeks or even months. Even those geniuses over at Facebook seldom get it right the first time. Embrace the bugs in the system, recognizing that every tweak you make is but one more small success on the road to seismic change.
Identify System Problems. This one comes from another book I recently read (and loved) called Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, in which the authors introduce the concept of the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE). Put simply…
People tend to ignore the situational forces that shape other people’s behavior, thus attributing it to the way they are rather than the situation they are in.
I can write an entire blog on this one (and probably will at some point), but for now let’s consider the following:
You say you can’t help but eat sweets before bed, but would this continue to be true if you didn’t keep sweets in the house?
You say you can’t keep your weight down because there are no healthy food options near your job, but what if you took your own lunch?
You say that you don’t get up at 6am to go to the gym because you’re too tired to deal with the hassle of getting ready, but what if you laid out your gym clothes the night before and left your alarm (the one on your phone, I assume) in your workout pants pocket?
You see, these aren’t really problems with YOU per se. Rather, these issues are guided by situation forces that can be very easily overcome by simple situational shifts.
The little things go a long way.
And that’s the point of Dean’s book — a little shift here on top of a little shift here on top of another little shift over there eventually leads to seismic change.
Dean is one of the few in the health blogosphere who has this thing figured out. It’s not just about food and fitness, you guys. You gotta get your mind right.
Read his book.
I guarantee it will make you shi(f)t your pants! Pun intended.
By the way, Dean was a presenter at my Paleo Summit. I posted his presentation below. I’ll leave it up for the rest of the week. Watch that shi(f)t!!!
I imagine it was my father who turned me on to him. At the time, I didn’t really understand his stand-up comedy routine — jokes about sex, women, and cocaine kinda go over a 6-year-old’s head, ya know.
I just remember my Mom covering my miniature-sized ears while he cursed up a storm on stage.
But that just made him cooler, Mom.
Off-stage and on the silver screen there was a lighter side to the potty-mouthed comic. The Toy — co-starring the great Jackie Gleason — is still one of my favorite movies. And who can forget his roles in Brewster’s Millions with John Candy, Superman III with Christopher Reeve, and the hilarious Hear No Evil, See No Evil with sidekick Gene Wilder.
I may have been 9-years-old when I first heard the bad news of Pryor’s diagnosis with multiple sclerosis (MS), a condition he battled for 17 years.
Like his comedy act, I was then too young to fully understand the outlook and implications of an MS diagnosis. It was not until I watched the movie Harlem Nights that it finally clicked.
Right away I knew that something wasn’t right with Richard. His speech was slightly slurred. His coordination seemed a bit off. His facial expressions weren’t the same ones I was used to.
He was deteriorating.
Over the next decade I would watch his condition progress further as he struggled through television interviews. Eventually, his wife did most of the talking for him.
The man who once strutted back and forth on stage had been confined to a wheelchair.
The man who made a living with his BIG mouth was rendered nearly speechless.
In 2005, he was gone.
The laughter had ended. MS is no joke.
The despair of the Richard Pryor story serves to magnify the incredibility of another.
Late last year, I learned of Dr. Terry Wahls and her miraculous recovery from MS. During her now-gone-viral TEDx talk, I was very happy to find out that the doctor’s recovery was not attributable to the latest technology or pharmacological research, but to Real Food.
Unwilling to live out the rest of her years from the confines of a tilt-reclined wheelchair, Dr. Wahls took it upon herself to scour the research on neurodegenerative diseases. What she found were 45 critical brain-building nutrients, most of which are deficient in the Standard American Diet.
As Dr. Wahls explained during our broadcast, the human body is a chemistry set requiring specific nutrients in order for reactions to occur and for structures to be built. Without these critical nutrients, the structures of the brain (as well as the many other systems of the body) are either made incorrectly or not made at all. Like I say, you can’t build a brick house without the bricks.
When at least two out of three people reading this blog are deficient in minerals, and one in two are deficient in the B vitamins as well as vitamins A and C, I think it’s fair to say that we are nation short on bricks, and knee-deep in chronic degenerative diseases as a result.
When the chemistry stops, we die. In the meantime, we deteriorate. That is, unless we add the right bricks back to our diets.
What’s exciting about Dr. Wahls’ story is the fact that the bricks she used to reverse her MS came by way of the Paleo Diet, as she removed grains, legumes, and dairy while maximizing the consumption of the 45 brain-building nutrients.
Never underestimate the power of Real Food.
In OUR PODCAST, Dr. Wahls covers a range of topics including…
* The different stages of MS
* Why greens, sulfur-containing foods, and colored veggies are critical for building a healthy brain and body
* The connection between starches, gut health, and autoimmune diseases like MS
* The importance of removing toxins from the body
* Why a supplement program is important but not a replacement for Real Food
* The doctor’s take on grains, gluten-free flours, and eggs
* Why the standard medical approach to MS will not change without published clinical trials
* What you can DO to support nutrition-oriented MS research by visiting The Wahls Foundation website
And best of all, you’ll learn why we should all take Benjamin Franklin’s advice and “Fart Proudly”.
MS never got the chance to take away Dr. Wahls’ ability to make us all laugh.
When it comes to health and wellness, most of us are suffering from a bad case of tunnel vision. I like to call it “being stuck in The Box”.
The Box is fairly limited in contents, usually consisting of two things: diet and exercise. They’re all we seem to talk, argue, and debate about.
What’s the best diet?
Which burns more fat: long distance cardio or interval training?
Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.
It never ends. And worst of all, a lot of the answers we get seldom seem to work. Is there something we’re missing?
Last month, Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat, was on UW Radio. He and I discussed the first law of thermodynamics, otherwise known as the law of conservation. This is the law that the calorie-counters cling to. It states that energy cannot be created or destroyed but can only change from one form to another. In other words, if you eat more calories than you burn, you store (conserve) those excess calories (energy) as fat. Do the opposite and you burn fat.
I can hear the calorie-counters letting out an “amen” right now. The first law of thermodynamics is indisputable! And I agree. The law is in fact true. However, as Gary pointed out, at no point does it address WHY we overconsume those calories.
Now let’s take a step outside of our pretty little Boxes.
People like me focus so much on how our diets have changed over the past 10,000 years. Actually, scratch that! Our diets have changed tremendously just in the last decade. While all of these nutritional and lifestyle rearrangements transpired, our genetic framework barely changed (just 0.01% according to Dr. S. Boyd Eaton). And as Dr. Cate Shanahan pointed out in her book Deep Nutrition, our old school genes expect old school foods, not any of this newfangled (I stole that word from Sally Fallon) processed crap most folks eat today. I think we can all agree on that.
But what else has changed?
Well, let’s rewind 10,000 years ago (actually we don’t even have to go back that far). We, like every other species on the planet, lived according to the sun, moon, and stars. Yes, we were “lazy overeaters” as Art De Vany would say. But we were also “seasonal overeaters”.
And seasonal sleepers.
Back then, the long days and short nights of spring and summer brought abundant food as the trees grew fruit. This was followed by the short days and long nights of famine, a time when we took to our caves and chilled out for the winter. The trees grew no fruit. The freezing weather made hunting quite a challenge. Snow and ice covered the soils, keeping the wild vegetation from springing forth.
Just think of growing a garden in the middle of snow season.
Every so often, the power goes out in your neighborhood. Let’s say it’s about 9pm and you don’t have candles. The pitch black you experience is what your ancestors experienced every day when the sun went down (that is, until fire was domesticated). Chances are you get incredibly bored because you can’t access Facebok, Twitter, or my incredibly awesome blog here. What do you do?
You go to bed.
What does this have to do with health, fat loss, and WHY we overeat? A lot.
If you knew a famine was on the way, you would get prepared. You’d likely stock up on canned foods, water, and other non-perishables. If you didn’t, you’d be an idiot and nature would weed you out. Either that or you’d be quite the freeloader. Really, I’m not sure which is worse.
Our ancestors didn’t have such luxuries. They prepared for the winter by fattening up during the summer and living off of their fat stores when the food went scarce.
Did they do this on purpose? Maybe so. But even if they were idiots, their bodies would make them get ready for the coming famine.
As you know, melatonin is your primary sleep hormone. During summer, when the nights are short, melatonin production is reduced for a couple of reasons. Of course, the first reason is that the nights are much shorter as compared to the winter. The next is that melatonin suppresses the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. So when melatonin is down, it’s sexy time! This makes sense because pregnancy requires sufficient fat stores (which build up in summer, as you will soon learn) and it is best to give birth in the spring when there is enough food to go around. Giving birth during a famine isn’t a very good idea.
As I mentioned earlier, the trees fruit during the warmer months. This gave your ancestors access to carbohydrate for a limited time. We all know that excess carbohydrate increases insulin, which stores fat and also increases cholesterol. In summer, this is what we wanted to do. Consuming carbohydrate to make fat was how we got ourselves ready for winter. Heading into winter looking like a supermodel was bad news! What’s more, cholesterol reduces the freezing temperature of your cells. That way you wouldn’t freeze to death in your furnace-less cave.
Let’s go back to melatonin. During sleep, you make another hormone called prolactin, When the nights are long, as in winter, your prolactin has come down by the time you wake up. But in the summer, when the nights are short, prolactin spills over into the daytime. This is a key point when considering WHY we overeat (specifically carbohydrates).
When prolactin spills over into the daytime, it suppresses a hormone called leptin. Leptin is your body’s fat monitor. I’ll have to make a video about this one soon. For now, to make it simple, leptin goes to the brain and pushes the OFF button on your Neuropeptide Y (NPY). When NPY is turned on, you crave carbohydrates. This is why your ancestors loaded up on fruit and carbs as much as they could during the spring and summer. They were driven to do it by NPY! Why? Because the short nights gave them “prolactin spillover”, thus suppressing leptin, and leaving carb-craving NPY cranked up.
Of course, all of this “carbing-up” made them insulin resistant, which was actually a good thing back then. Insulin resistance and the fat it stores isn’t really a problem when your life depends on it.
Let’s fast-forward to the early 20th century and the invention of the light bulb. Now, with the flip of a switch (or the clap of our hands) we can manipulate the seasons. Long days. Short nights. Year round.
Endless Summer isn’t just a movie about surfers. It’s how we live our lives.
And the famine never comes.
Damn you, Edison.
While we fret over diet and exercise, the light bulb gets a free pass. The answer to WHY we overeat may be the fact that we don’t sleep and never turn the lights off. We advocate following Mother Nature and the foods she provides. But nature is more than just food. She is the sun, moon, stars, and everything else that originates from her. That is, until we took it upon ourselves to do her job for her.
Obesity is much more than what’s in The Box. It’s survival gone haywire.
Naturopathic doctor Trevor Cates makes her debut appearance on Underground Wellness Radio, as she shares her very BEST tips for aging gracefully, inside and out, without the weird creams and overhyped, expensive berries.