After some deliberation, I have decided to change the name of this blog.
The new name will be Live Now, Thrive Later – http://www.livenowthrivelater.co.uk
I still have great affinity and love for the name Primal, and my outdoor fitness site, Primal Fitness will continue to operate under that banner, but I have decided to move away from that label for this blog for a number of reasons which I shall outline below.
Fans of the Paleo Lifestyle
The Dangers of Dogmatism
My primary reason for moving away from the Primal label is in an attempt to escape the trap of confirmation bias.
Identify with any one particular diet, lifestyle choice or training regimen, and it is all too easy to lose one’s objectivity.
No matter how rational and open minded we think we are, we all have a tendency to seek out information and ideas that confirm our existing beliefs, and reject those which contradict them.
I have written a fair bit about the problems with the core theories underpinning the primal/paleo diet recently.
I still follow many of the tenets of the diet – however I think it important that every food be assessed on its own merits. If you align yourself with any one particular diet, it becomes very hard to be objective about foods which it specifies as good or bad.
The same is true for exercise, activity and training. Though I personally love Primal type activities, it is important to recognise that they are neither the only way, nor necessarily the most preferable way, for everyone to stay happy and healthy.
When I first came across Body By Science by Doug McGuff, I dismissed it after flicking through a few pages and seeing him using machines, because “I knew they were inferior to bodyweight/free weight training”. Doh!
Not Everyone Wants to Live in a Cave
Very few people who follow a Primal or paleo type diet and lifestyle actually live in a cave, nor do they want too. In fact, very few of our paleolithic ancestors ever actually lived in caves either.
That doesn’t stop the general public from believing that they do however, or the media from painting this picture.
The term Primal can be quite off putting to the uninitiated – it can sound very masculine and aggressive, and conjures up images of crawling through the dirt and living off of raw meat.
As it happens, I quite enjoy crawling through the dirt, and am partial to the odd bit of steak tartare and sashimi, but I can also appreciate how the average person may be a little apprehensive.
For the majority of people, 15 minutes a week of simple and safe exercises they can do from the comfort of their own homes, and a flexible and individually tailored dietary plan is going to be a much more appealing and feasible starting point.
Once an individual has already improved their health, is managing their weight, is stronger and has a better self image, then they can start exploring more varied and challenging activities, of which Primal type training is one of many.
Guilt by Association
When I started Primal Fitness in 2004 it was the first and only Primal in the UK.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m making no claims as to having invented the concept of ancestral health, far from it. I first come across the concept reading an article by Paul Check entitled “Did Cavemen do Sit-ups”, and then read The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain. These inspired me to develop a workout routine based around hunting and gathering, from which was born my idea for Primal Fitness.
When googling the name to see if it already existed, I came across Mark Sisson and the Primal Blueprint, still a favourite of mine to recommend to people looking to turn around their health and fitness, despite its rather contentious low-carb leanings.
Over the years however, the Primal/paleo movement has been growing and gaining momentum, and while there are no doubt many positives that have come out of this, it has also resulted in the hijacking of the movement by a mixture of pseudo-scientists, fundamentalist lunatics and those who spot a profit to be made.
I’m not sure which out of the three categories I find most annoying!
From doctors claiming you should sit in a bath of ice because we’ve got shared DNA with beavers, to self-righteous proselytisers making people feel guilty because they eyed up an aubergine, to the new start up company that approached me suggesting that their copyrighted animal movement patterns would be a good fit for my brand, I’ve just become rather disenfranchised with the whole scene…
To me, Primal Living should be, and always will be, a philosophy – a recognition that many aspects of modern life and conventional wisdom are not congruent with optimal health and happiness, and the desire to seek out an alternative, more fulfilling lifestyle.
I fear however, that the term has become imbued with too many disparate meanings for me to effectively use it in that way any more.
Why Live Now, Thirve Later?
At the same time however, it aims to turn that very premise on it’s head – the notion that health and fitness are something one must invest in now through hard work and discipline, in order to reap the benefits at some point in the distant future.
Exercise and movement can and should be activities that are stimulating and enjoyable, as and when you do them, with immediate and tangible rewards. Playing, exploring and challenging your physical limits can all pay dividends right now, as well as in the future through increased longevity and sustained health and vitality.
Healthy eating should not be based around deprivation and guilt, but simply focused on eating tasty, nourishing, wholesome foods most of the time, and enjoying every mouthful.
The concepts that we must either live a life of stoicism, deprivation and penance, through dull and monotonous diet and exercise, in order to claw back a few extra years at the end of our lives, or live a life of unbridled hedonism now, and suffer the consequences later, are unfounded and outdated, and debunking these myths and finding a better way is my modus operandi behind Live Now Thrive Later.
The Technical Bit
If you’re subscribed to an RSS feed, you may have to resubscribe to the new page due to the changed address. Old links should still work, as I shall keep the old Primal Living address pointing to the site also.