10 Laws at a Glance

1. Eat Plants and Animals

2. Avoid Poisonous Things

3. Move Frequently

4. Lift Heavy Things

5. Sprint Once in a While

6. Get Plenty of Sleep

7. Play

8. Get Plenty of Sunlight

9. Avoid Stupid Mistakes

10. Use Your Brain

The simplicity of the primal laws that were first proposed by Mark Sisson in his groundbreaking book “The Primal Blueprint” is the same tenants that I follow throughout my health journey. The concepts themselves are not individual to the Primal Diet itself but have been around for a thousand years. They are sort of the common-sense laws that support healthy habits.

Whether your goal is to finish your next marathon, to lose a few pounds, or just to live with more vitality, the primal laws can help get you there. The idea that living a healthy lifestyle needs to be complicated is just misleading. Between diet tracking, diet wars, meat is bad, vegetables are bad, there is too much to follow. And so much so that most just throw their hands up in the air and say the heck with it all. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. I love the 10 Primal Laws as it takes all the nonsense and boils it all down to 10 simple and easy to follow laws to create healthy, happy, strong, lean, and versatile primal beings.

At its core, almost every article that I write for this website will be governed by these same simple tenants.

1. Eat plants and animals

Your diet is individual to you. At the end of the day so much of what you eat can be determined by your culture, youre history, and your upbringing. But even taking your own individual food preferences it to account eating primally certainly can be done successfully.

In order to clean up your diet and eat simply you should first set your diet to control for protein. Meaning based on your age, sex, and activity level you should start with quality protein sources. Usually seek to aim for about .7grams – 1grams per lb of lean body mass(your weight minus the amount of fat you are carrying). After protein(all forms of meat, fowl, fish) is controlled for , fill the rest of your plate with colorful sources of vegetables, little fruit(mostly berries) , and plenty of healthy fats (nuts, avocados, coconuts, olive oil..ect).

Eliminate grains, sugars and trans and bad oils(hydrogenated fats) from your diet. Try to eat in season and shop locally as this guarantees the most in season fresh access to food.

2. Avoid poisonous things

Poison by definition is a substance that is capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism when introduced or absorbed. What this looks like in our diet can take the form of many things. Avoid exposure to chemical toxins in your food (pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, etc.) and on your skin. This means opting for local organic produce, grass-fed beef, and pasture-raised poultry. This can also take the form of foods like sugars, grains, processed foods, trans and hydrogenated fats, and mercury in certain fish.

Not to elicit any kind of scare tactic however as many of these foods in smaller doses won’t really have long-term damage but a diet that completely ignores the implications of these foods can cause health issues. My philosophy however is in small doses or in larges dose why bother at all as having these foods, other than psychological enjoyment, doesn’t benefit me nutritionally.

3. Move frequently

Do some kind of low-level activity a least a few hours a week. What this looks like is highly individual. Many individuals, especially those working night shift, find it rather difficult to have the energy to slog it out at the gym. The simplicity of the primal lifestyle is that movement is just that, movement. It doesn’t mean that you have to run until your legs fall off on the treadmill, and it certainly doesn’t mean spending an hour on the elliptical each day, which point in fact is my least favorite machine. Movement can mean a nice stroll, hiking on a trail at a nearby lake, or an easy bike. The idea is that you move.

In order to ensure you are not exceeding basic simplicity of an aerobic workout limit yourself to a simple math formula of heart rate zones. Keep yourself at 180-age for a majority of you aerobic workouts. For those without heart rate monitors this is being able to carry on a basic conversation while being active. By moving around more at a slow pace you help stave off the dreaded burnout associated with most workout plans.

4. Lift heavy things

One of my favorite primal laws is lift heavy things. This doesn’t mean you have to become a bodybuilder. Ideally focus on full body movements two to three times a week. This should ideally only consume 30-45 minutes in a session. Typically I like to work out as soon as I wake up right after my afternoon coffee. But I also would fit in a workout right after shift at 5:00 am when my schedule allowed it. Full body lifting with weights will help to increase muscle strength and power, improve bone density, and enhance insulin sensitivity.

For those that aren’t adapt to lifting with weights this doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t adhere to this law. By focusing on movements the emulate our ancestors you  can simplify it to what works for you level of activity, squats (body weight or with a bar), jumping movements, pull-ups (assisted or free hang), planks, and pushups. The idea is to start where you are and simply move more. By focusing on full body movements as apposed to isolation you are getting more done with less time.

5. Sprint Once in a While

This takes the form of intense anaerobic sprint bursts, typically around every 7-10 days, or as your body allows. It is important to listen to your body when it comes to sprint workouts in order to avoid chronic cardio symptoms or injury. These short bursts also increase human growth hormone release (HGH is actually released in proportion to the intensity (not the duration) of the exercise).

When I say sprint this does not have to be exclusively running. It can take the form of any exercise that you can perform at an all out effort. These should always include first a proper warm up of the muscles specific to the exercise. This can  include running, cycling, or swimming, the idea is to do about 4-6 (or more as long as the quality doesn’t diminish) all out efforts lasting approx. 10-20 seconds.

6. Get Plenty of Sleep

Anyone who has worked the night shift for any amount of night knows exactly what it feels like when your sleep falls short. One of the keys to living a healthy lifestyle is getting plenty of sleep. More important than duration is quality. Easier said than done I can attest to first hand. That said one of the most important factors in ensuring you manage to get sleep despite going to bed when everyone else is getting up is consistency. Go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time.

While consistency isn’t the cure-all for getting the best possible sleep, it is certainly a step in the right direction as opposed to trying to flip our clocks every weekend. Make sleep your priority and your body will thank you.

7. Play

As adults, we have forgotten the enjoyment of play. Whether it was a pickup game of basketball as a kid, or even just hopping on the merry go round. We have moved away from the pure enjoyment associated with being active while enjoying something. Spend some time each week involved in an activity that gets you back to your roots. You will be amazed as play helps dissipate some of the negative effects of the chronic stress hormones you’ve been accumulating through the week.

For those with children this should be the easiest if you can’t figure out something to do, just ask them what they want to do. Or if you have friends that are already involved in some kind of low-level activity then join them an create a sense of friendship that has its own associated health benefits.

8. Get Plenty of Sunlight

Despite the conventional wisdom that sunlight is bad it is highly beneficial to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day. Sunlight boosts your body’s level of serotonin, which is a chemical that improves your mood and helps you stay calm and focused. As individuals that work the night shift can attest it is very easy to go through mild bouts of depression, partially due to lack of sunlight.

A large number of research points to sunlight and its ability to regular the circadian rhythm. Though that gets thrown out the window somewhat with the odd hours we work it is beneficial to avoid it after a shift in the early hours and try to get exposure upon waking in the afternoon.  I primarily love sunlight for its ability to create vitamin D, a hormone produced naturally through sun exposure. 30 minutes of sunlight on exposed skin, not just hands and face, is enough to produce 10,000 IU’s of Vitamin D. In that quantity, you would have to down quite a bit of supplemental vitamin D and even then it’s not as effective as sun exposure.

9. Avoid Stupid Mistakes

Built into our DNA is the essential fight or flight response. On the surface, this might seem like panic or fear in dangerous situations. To our ancient ancestors, the idea of avoiding stupid mistakes was a biological necessity as it literally sometimes meant life or death. But fast forward to today where “stupid” mistakes could take on a whole new definition. In the context of the 10 primal laws is can be summed up to mean eliminate self-destructive behaviors. A good example of this is working the night shift we tend to operate on limited sleep, so perhaps avoid heavy machinery when in this state, or if you haven’t had adequate sleep maybe don’t get behind a wheel.

Learn to develop a sense of awareness of the situation and the surroundings you find yourself in and learn to understand the consequences of certain actions.

10. Use your brain

Your brain is a work in progress. It is “plastic.” From the day we’re born to the day we die, it continuously revises and remodels, improving or slowly declining, as a function of how we use it. If you do not use it and you let it idle your brain will slowly, over time, begin to deteriorate. Engage your brain daily.

By participating in daily activities that force you to use your brain you are maintaining its plasticity. Activities can include daily walks where you focus on the environment around you, being present, music, podcasts, books. Each one of us has the ability to enrich our lives and grow our brainpower daily.

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About the author : Robert Eilers

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