Eating primal is a big change. It forces you to change everything you ever thought you knew about food and healthy eating. It goes against the grain (no pun intended) when it comes to mainstream health. It seems impossible when you first start and fills you with doubt, confusion, apprehension. Most of all, it’s not commonly done, especially here in Scotland, so you will most likely be all on your primal lonesome. And that’s pretty tough to deal with.
But, regardless, people all over the world, in different situations, different incomes, different lives, make it work. Every day. Primal isn’t just for Americans or Australians, they’re just ahead of the game. Primal isn’t just for those with lots of time, or lots of money. It’s for anyone that wants to do it, anyone that wants to be on a journey to thriving over surviving. To do it well, you need to have a few things in common. You need to possess what I think are The Five Keys to Primal Success.
1. You need confidence
Yep, I just went there. My Coconut Friend Amie says I have a way of doing that, in a good way.
I’m not going to sugar-coat this: overhauling your diet to ultimately change your life in ways you never knew possible takes a lot of balls. You need confidence to acknowledge that you need a change and what you’re currently doing isn’t working. You need confidence to start looking for a better, lasting solution, to start taking the first steps to betterment. You need confidence to tell that first person that you’re going make some serious changes, and to believe that you can do it, that you’re worth it and that you’re going to succeed. You need confidence to put your foot down and decide that this lifestyle is one of your top priorities. Above all, unfortunately, you need confidence to deal with the many questions and comments that will come, to explain what you’re doing and give information, to tell someone “No, I’m seriously not going to eat that,” and to not let others get to you.
I truly believe that confidence is THE MOST IMPORTANT factor to primal success.
2. You need to possess the proper knowledge
Knowledge is power. And the more knowledge you have, the better your understanding of primal concepts should be, and the more inclined you are to stay on track. I always say that primal isn’t just a matter of ‘tell me what to eat and I’ll do it.’ Although I started primal to lose weight, the further I got in my journey through constant reading and research, the less I thought of it as a weight-loss programme. For me, primal is my path to thriving.
It’s vitally important to understand the why’s and how’s of primal. I know some people skip over the scientific bits in all the primal, paleo and low-carb books because it seems dry, but in actual fact, I think the science is THE most important part of information. People should understand the difference between a sugar-burner and a fat-burner, the effect sugar and many carbs (even primal ones) can have on blood glucose levels. They should understand that weight loss isn’t about Calories In vs. Calories Out, and how exercise isn’t about working your ass off until you’re exhausted and dripping with sweat. Finally, people should understand how weight loss on a primal diet actually works, and how the diet can heal your guts and reverse many serious ailments. The more information you have the less abstract it becomes; it becomes very easy to understand and apply.
Knowledge allows you to make more informed choices on foods to eat and buy. It also allows you to be able to decipher that pseudo-information from the actual, the good science from the bad science. Finally, knowledge gives you more confidence (and arsenal) to deal with other people, and try new primal things… like making bone broth, or fermenting vegetables.
3. You need to feel supported
After our success story was published on Mark’s Daily Apple, one common theme kept reoccurring in the comments: spousal support. People remarked that it’s great we support each other and that we work as a team, and they could relate to that because they’re a team with their spouse. Some people also commented that they’re doing primal alone, and wish their spouse would join them. I never even thought about Pat and I supporting each other because our daily primal and athletic routine is just that: routine. It was only when other people said something that I thought “Oh yeah, we do support each other completely.” Whether it’s with meal prep, grocery shopping, or training, Pat and Danielle + Primal work because we get how important the whole package is.
At the end of the day, it feels good to know that you’re not alone on your primal journey. It’s very reassuring to be around other people, even if it’s just one person, that gets it. One person that you don’t have to go into a long-winded explanation over the why’s and how’s, one person that understands why Sunday afternoons (or whatever day you choose) are blocked off for meal prep, or training runs. Or both.
Even if you’re the only one you know that’s gone primal, just the fact that people understand your commitment, don’t pressure you to eat non-primal foods, or make positive remarks on your progress is something.
4. You need to be committed
You can’t be part-time paleo, it just doesn’t work like that. You can’t expect optimal results with subpar commitment. Making big changes requires unwavering commitment, which results in consistency, as per Mark Sisson.
I think that commitment is key. If something is important, you will make time, it will be a priority and you will do it consistently. Without commitment, all is lost. Your half-assed attempts won’t create the results you’re looking for, but why would they? The biggest reward in one’s primal journey is feeling physically and mentally better, and that comes with hard work and dedication.
5. You need to make time
“I want to go primal, but I just don’t have time.” How many times have your heard that? Or, how many times have you said that? The truth is, no one has extra time to spare. An ailment of the developed world is to over-schedule yourself and then compete over how ‘busy’ you are with your friends and family. Who actually claims to have any spare time nowadays?
This idea of being too busy to do anything is a disease that’s spreading quicker than type 2 diabetes. We think we need to overload and have jam-packed social schedules, but at then end of the day, how much of it is good quality? And how much of it do you spend wishing you were at home relaxing?
When it comes to time, the truth is we make time for the things we truly want. And when it comes to primal, that should be in your top 3 priorities. If you don’t make food shopping and food prepping a priority, you’re going to find it very difficult to stay committed. Yes, you can make a lot of primal meals quickly, but they can get boring, quickly – can you say omelettes anyone?
So, declutter your calendar. Start saying no. Start pencilling in meal prep every week if you need to. Look at your weeks ahead, and decide the days that are best for a few hours of uninterrupted cooking. And stick to it. Fill your freezer if need be, but get that meal prep done. It’s the most important aspect of your hands-on primal journey.
And when it comes to physical activity and training? Again, that’s a top priority if you’re looking to make progress and gains.
Primal isn’t easy. As they say in A League of Their Own: “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” But, regardless, people make it work all day long. And these keys to primal success are what get them there.
Have I missed anything?
What do you think is important to one’s primal success?