This is the second part in a series on what I feel are some of the keys to making the Paleo lifestyle successful for you over the long haul. The first part of the series was on cooking and it seemed to be pretty well received. Today’s topic? Understanding…
One of the most important things that will allow for long term commitment to anything in your life is understanding why you are doing it. This may sound a bit simplistic or obvious, but take the time to think about it. Changing your life in a way many consider “drastic” is not easy, and you need a good reason to do it! When I started the journey on a Paleo diet I asked quite a few questions about why I should do this. Being a physician and the fact that many Paleo principles go against much of what I was taught about diet and nutrition I set about learning as much as I could. Making a fundamental change in your life, no matter what area it is in, requires a real belief in what you are doing. Belief can only come with knowledge.
When my wife and I decided to go paleo, I downloaded and read Robb Wolf’s book The Paleo Solution. I mentioned it in an earlier post, but I will give you this advice. You need to understand two things about Paleo; how we do it, and why we do it. Robb’s book gives you the option to simply read about the how to do it, and suggests you can follow Paleo without worrying about the why. Of course he is right, but I think to be most affective you need to know the why. How to follow Paleo is pretty simple as we all know. There will be a point, or likely many points when you will feel like going back to your old ways. A solid foundational knowledge on why you follow Paleo will serve you well during these times and get you back on track.
When I discuss any topic with my patients I hope that they ask me questions. Curiosity about why I am telling them to do things a certain way lets me know they are thinking, and that they care about what we are talking about. Simply taking something on blind faith is a risky proposition. Don’t get me wrong, you have every reason to trust any of the major Paleo book writers like Robb Wolf, and his book is extremely well written, researched, and presented. That said, you need to take ownership of your own life and health. My experience with patients is simple; if they just accept what I’m saying to do and nod absent mindedly they are unlikely to have followed through with any recommendations I made when they return for their next follow up visit. If they show interest and ask good questions, they are much more likely to show improvement.
So take the time to read The Paleo Solution cover to cover and UNDERSTAND. Although the Paleo lifestyle will offer you significant improvements in many areas of your life it is not good as a means to an end of a single specific goal such as weight loss. Look at your health as a whole and see all the ways changing your diet could help you. Look FORWARD in your life and see how changes today can change your life tremendously many years from now. Don’t simplify the decision to go Paleo but rather make it about long term happiness and health.
Once you fully understand the driving principles behind why following the Paleo lifestyle is best for you, you will be able to pass it on to others. Whether it be to patients or clients of your own, friends, or even family, proper understanding will allow you to successfully lead those you care about to also go Paleo. This ultimately is where we can make the most impact on our future.
So take the time to learn and understand Paleo, what it does, and why it does it. You do not need a medical degree to grasp the basic concepts. I try to learn something new about Paleo everyday, and you have all the resources you will ever need with a computer and an internet connection. You will be questioned about your diet by many, and if you plan on helping them understand why you are right (and they are wrong!) you need convincing knowledge on your side. Study up, past the test, and join the fight!