Primal Thoughts

Lose Fat, Gain Strength and Confidence!

‘So why aren’t you guys vegetarians?’

With all the talk of alkalinity and blood oxygen concentrations of late Samantha and I have been asked numerous times now why we don’t just give up meat altogether and opt for the ‘cleanest’ of lifestyles once and for all.  With time pressures as they are all we usually have time to retort is how life would cease to have meaning if a good T-bone on a Saturday night was no longer an option or Sunday morning’s Lamb’s liver breakfast was given the boot.

So I wanted to take the opportunity to explain exactly why we’re not going to go meat free, the anthropological, human reasons why our species need animal protein and why, in my opinion, many of the arguments against eating meat simply aren’t valid and are heavily blinkered considering the evidence available to us.

What this certainly won’t be is a piece to bash vegetarianism and vegetarians and vegans in a condescending, disrespectful manor.  Firstly, Samantha and I have good friends and clients who are vegetarians and we’re immensely respectful of their reasons.  This is a piece to educate those who, perhaps blindly, assume that vegetarianism is the route to supreme health and wellness.  That’s what we’re really concerned with here, health.  Health is paramount and is, I hope, the goal for anyone reading this article, so it’s important that, from the outset, you understand that this is not an article defining the right and the wrong, this is an article about what is the healthiest road to take.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan and have been for over 20 years and you feel absolutely optimal, happy, clear, the pinnacle of health and you have no health issues whatsoever, I applaud you, keep doing what you’re doing!  If not, please read on and hopefully you’ll get some questions answered.

 

Anatomical Adaptations

The first point I want to address is the idea that our bodies are not designed to eat meat.  People often come from two perspectives on this, our teeth and our digestive system.

I’ve heard and read countless people say that human teeth are simply not designed to eat meat just because they don’t resemble that of a lion or tiger.  Well no, they don’t, that’s because lions and tigers are carnivores (predominantly eat meat eating) and we are omnivores (omnivore literally meaning ‘all-eater’).  Many maintain that most meat, in its raw state, is just too tough for our teeth to cope with.  True, and that’s why our primal ancestors almost exclusively ate organ meats such as liver, kidney and heart which are much smoother and easier to eat raw and PACKED full of vitamins and minerals absolutely vital for optimal health.  The importance of offal consumption will become very evident as we move on.

It’s also important to understand where we were actually evolved from.  Humans as we are today are most closely evolved from the species of hominids that pioneered the use of tools and fire.  Richard Wrangham of Harvard University states that at this stage in our evolution humans began to ‘pre-digest’ their food through cooking, cutting and grinding.  And so, sharp teeth for cutting and tearing simply weren’t necessary.

Our second point of reference here is the Gastro-intestinal tract or our digestive system.  The GI tract of the human species is specifically ‘intermediate to that of a herbivore and a carnivore’.  The GI tract of a herbivore is long and multi-segmented, has fermentative stomachs designed to allow the ‘re-chewing’ of food and is geared around a heavy reliance on bacterial fermentation of the vegetation consumed.  The tract of a carnivore is much shorter, smoother and lacks the ‘chambers’ necessary for fermentation.  The human, omnivore system is some way in-between, allowing for effective digestion of BOTH vegetation and animal products, even having different Ph levels at different parts of the system.  The ‘meat digestion zone’ is much more acidic where the ‘veg digestion zone’ is actually more alkaline.

Robb Wolf states that ‘the basic machinery for meat consumption is inherent in all primates.  Chimps hunt, Gorillas eat termites and other primates.  Even Deer appear to occasionally eat meat.’

As an aside humans have a conditionally essential need for Taurine, a nutrient ESSENTIAL for carnivores.

 

Vitamin B12

Perhaps THE most important human need to eat animal produce comes from the body’s requirement for Vitamin B12.

What do ALL of these conditions have in common?….

Alzheimers, dementia, age associated memory loss, multiple sclerosis, depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, cardiovascular disease, learning difficulties in children, autism, autoimmune disease, cancer, male and female infertility.

They ALL mimic the signs and symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Even a minor deficiency in Vit B12 can cause serious neurological problems such as brain fog, memory problems and cognitive decline.

40% of people between the ages of 26 and 83 are in the ‘Low Normal’ range for Vit B12.  A range at which many may experience neurological symptoms.  B12 works with folate in the synthesis of our DNA and red blood cells and is involved in the production of the myelin sheath surrounding our nerves.  This means that it’s quantities in our system determine the health of our nervous system and the conduction of nerve impulses and the health of our DNA and our blood.

The important thing to understand here is that Vitamin B12 is ONLY FOUND IN ANIMAL PRODUCTS.  B12 contains trace Cobalt and is thus often called Cobalamin.  Cobalamin is ONLY produced in the guts of animals and is the only vitamin we can’t obtain from either plants or the sun.

Many will claim that plant foods such as seaweed and spirulina can provide sufficient B12 but this is not correct.  These plant foods only contain ‘B12 analogs’ called cobamides that actually block the intake and increase the need for true Vitamin B12.  In fact 50% or long term vegetarians and 80% of long term vegans are deficient in B12!

A study found that children raised vegan until age 6 were still B12 deficient years after they started eating animal products.  In testing the children’s fluid intelligence, so complex problem solving, reasoning, abstract thinking and the ability to learn were severely hampered.

 

Cholesterol

The big bad wolf?  By now I’m hoping people have got the message that cholesterol is certainly not the demon it’s been made out to be largely by the food and pharmaceutical industries.  The right type of cholesterol is absolutely critical for brain health and optimal digestion.  In fact low cholesterol has been strongly linked to significant neurological problems.

The key here is that vegetarian and vegan diets lack sufficient amounts of dietary cholesterol coming by way of animal products, be it red meat, fish and shellfish or dairy.  Certainly one of the biggest reasons for ensuring your diet contains good amounts of dietary cholesterol from animal sources is our sex hormones and the kaleidoscope of issues associated with low consumption.

In the body cholesterol is broken down into DHEA, the precursor to Testosterone and Estrogen in differing ratios in men and women.  If our cholesterol intake is too low our sex hormones suffer leading to low sex drive, possible problems conceiving and feelings of weakness and lethargy.

Elite Strength Coach and Nutritionist Phil Richards introduced me to a Dutch study published in 1992.

‘A group of young male endurance athletes ate and trained on each diet for 6 weeks. (Half started on the meat-rich diet, half on the vegetarian diet; then they switched.)  Total testosterone declined 35% when the athletes used the vegetarian diet.’

 

 

Tooth Decay

Both Paul Chek and Chris Masterjohn talk of Weston Price’s studies of untouched native communities in the 1930’s which showed that, while there were a tiny number of ‘vegetarian’ tribes among the huge study, the overwhelming majority were omnivores of varying ratios and they were significantly healthier than the vegetarian tribes.  One such observation came in the form of the absence of tooth decay among the omnivore societies.  The prime reason for this is the presence of ‘fat soluble vitamins’ in animal foods.  Only animal products (fish, seafood, raw milk, organ meats, insects) contain these fat soluble vitamins and, supported by writer and speaker Chris Masterjohn’s experiences of vegetarianism were found to alleviate tooth decay and, over time, improve issues with anxiety.

 

False moral purity

Chris Masterjohn PhD introduced a phrase I really love in relation to some people’s views and reasons for becoming vegetarian or vegan, ‘false sense of moral purity’.  The notion that killing animals for food is evil based on the feelings of the animal for me isn’t good enough.  I absolutely agree that many of the ways in which animals are slaughtered for food and the conditions they are kept in are utterly abhorrent, and this is why we buy from independent, local butchers and fishmongers.  To punish the true, respectable farmers for the actions of the commercial farms and slaughter houses doesn’t make sense to me.

If the argument is that, ‘animals have feelings too’, then again, I agree, but so do plants.  A quick read through books like ‘The secret life of plants’ and ‘The secret life of our cells’ will tell you that plants are just as ‘alive’ and ‘aware’ as humans and animals.  They grow, they breath, they live and they feel, including pain and fear!  Studies have shown that when a plant is threatened it emits a certain measurable vibrational frequency and can actually recognise the offending individual when they leave and then return to a room amongst a group of people.  If you’re truly concerned with issues of pain and suffering on the planet then you’ll understand that literally EVERYTHING LIVING experiences emotions at a cellular level, be they good or bad.  That’s largely why free range, organic meat and fish is better for you than the caged, poorly treated meat and I fully believe that consuming meat from poorly reared, poorly treated, poorly killed animals sees us consuming an enormous amount of toxicity resulting from the negative emotional state of the animal.  However, I also believe that the same can be said for plants.  We take on the energy of the foods we consume and if the plants we eat are genetically modified, cramped, treated with pesticides and grown in contaminated soil this will render them next to worthless from a nutritional standpoint and completely toxic from an emotional one.  Plants feel, just as animals do and if you don’t believe that then you need to drastically expand your thinking.

The religious reasons for not consuming meat or certain meats are not for me to comment on and I respect anyone’s reasons and point of view.  This article has been for those who have perhaps been misinformed on certain aspects of vegetarianism from a health and cellular perspective.

 

Please understand that I am not suggesting everyone suddenly stack their plates full of steak, ribs and racks of lamb and nothing else.  As I mentioned in our previous blog post ‘when the fish get sick, change the water’, our plates should be covered ½ to ¾ with mixed, predominantly green, veg and the rest with animal protein from a variety of sources including plenty of organ meats, liver, kidney, heart etc, red meat, poultry and game, fresh fish and seafood.  We evolved over 2.5 million years on this kind of eating and when we see changes to the extreme at each end of the Carnivore/ Herbivore spectrum we start to see significant health problems and the onset of serious illness and disease.

 

Health is ALWAYS paramount, never sacrifice anything for that for without your health, you’ve got nothing!

The Dawn of a new era?

If there’s one thing that the fitness industry’s done for the world over the past 5 years or so, and something that I couldn’t be happier about, it’s the increased exposure of some seriously strong women, women that lift and women that lift big!

I can’t express just how important I think this is for future generations of girls and boys that they can regularly see examples of supremely healthy, strong women doing it purely for the love of it!  When I was growing up the fitness world was dominated by men, Arnie, Sly, Bruce Lee, Van Damme.  The closest thing to a female equivalent was Xena Warrior Princess!  Now, however, and this is largely facilitated by the emergence of Facebook, Twitter etc, we’ve got some incredible role models for girls and young women growing up now, my personal hero Samantha Pollock ;) , Mirella Clark, Kelly Dessington, Miranda Ollroyd, Annie Thorisdotyr and the UFC’s Rhonda Rousey and We are Primal’s very own client, the exponentially strong Saira Khan.

With Izabella at 6 years old I feel extremely proud to think that she’s growing up in a world where women like these are paving the way.  It struck me yesterday while watching the winter Olympics that there were innumerable ‘first time events’ for women that hadn’t been included before.  And Crossfit, whatever you say about it and whatever your feelings towards it, has been instrumental in communicating the ‘women that lift’ message and has given women all over the world role models and places they can go to get introduced to lifting.

For any women who remain unconvinced, however, of the benefits of weights training, particularly for strength, I just want to focus on the two main reasons I still hear women give for not strength training.

1 – “I don’t want to get bulky and lose my femininity!”

2 – “I don’t want to get injured!”

 

1 – Ok so the inadvertent bulking dilemma…Firstly Dr Michael Colgan’s research has found that it’s actually IMPOSSIBLE to put on more than an ounce of muscle a day, that equates to 23lbs, or 10.4Kgs PER YEAR!  That’s under absolutely OPTIMAL conditions, perfect nutrition and nutrient timing (pre, during and post workout), perfect supplementation, little stress, optimal rest and recovery and consistently HARD, gruelling training sessions!  Oh, and you’d have to be packing away some serious calories circa the 4/ 5,000 mark.  So if you’re at all worried about accidently stacking on a tonne of muscle mass super quickly, you needn’t!  Science dictates it’s simply not possible!

Different authors will post varying numbers on the amount of calories burned by adding a pound of muscle Vs a pound of fat.  We don’t need to worry about specifics here.  All you need to be sure of is that strength training and the subsequent hard earned muscle added to your frame will improve your resting metabolic rate and see you burning way more fat than if you were sedentary or even performing non-weight based exercise.  Your frame and overall shape will change, right down to an evolutionary level.  A person’s ability to ‘go into battle’, how you should really feel before going into a workout, is massively hampered both physically and psychologically by excess body-fat or inadequate muscle, both of which will only slow you down.  The body’s optimal natural state is to be strong and lean, not weak and skinny or overweight.

It’s important to reiterate that the recent fashion for being skinny is just that, a fashion.  Anthropologically and up until recently skinny meant weak, the runt of the litter, the first one to get picked off!  Strong is functional and strong is necessary, it’s not to be reserved for competitors in contact sports, strong-man events or circus’s. Strength is an evolutionary right, it will improve endurance, speed, coordination, reaction time, immune function and endocrine system (hormone) function to mention but a few, benefits non weight based training methods simply cannot claim!

In terms of losing femininity…Unless you’re buying your supplements from a guy with an undisclosed name with his hood up down a dark alley and your voice has suddenly gone 3 octaves lower, you’ve really got nothing to worry about ;)

 

2 – In terms of injuries your first port of call with any weight/ strength training should be to find a good coach, someone who you know has learnt from the best coaches and has maybe competed themselves.  Don’t be afraid to grill them when you meet them on their experience and the results they’ve achieved with other clients.

A quick note on results actually…A picture of someone who’s dropped 5 dress sizes is NOT evidence of a Personal Trainer or Fitness Professional who may be able to coach you in lifting and getting strong.  I would ask to see videos of clients of similar experience lifting weights, ‘numbers’ of weights lifted by clients  or just have a chat with some of their existing clients.

The most important factor however, that only you can judge, is trust.  This can take time to develop sometimes but you HAVE to go with your gut, has this person got your health and best interests at heart or are you just another marketing tool for them?

Finding a good coach is to help you develop the fundamentals of form and technique and to give you the confidence to up the poundage when you’re ready, but in terms of getting injured just because the weights are relatively heavy, no way!  You’re far less likely, provided you’re coached well, to get injured performing strength work than you are running, FAR less likely!  You won’t get the associated wear and tear of the cartilage in the joints, there’s significantly less stress on all of the major organs and your hormone homeostasis will be well maintained which is certainly NOT true of prolonged cardio work.

 

So chalk up, grab a bar and get lifting.  If you don’t believe me, ask any of the women I mentioned at the beginning and see what they say.  So actually no, it isn’t the dawn of a new era, strong isn’t the new skinny, strong has been the way forward since our species began, it’s your duty to keep it going!

 

‘You will never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have’

Brick laying

I was listening to the audio book of The Ph Miracle today and in the eighth chapter Dr. Young talks about the various stages that lead to being motivated enough to make a change in your life, particularly, in this instance, related to health and diet.  The first stage, the catalyst for everything, Dr. Young suggests, is Awareness.  Awareness of a symptom, problem or pain.

While I appreciate and agree that this is usually the way things go with people with regards to health, if you were to apply this way of thinking to other aspects of life you’d doubtless end up in a whole heap of trouble.  Take your accounts for example, you’ve got two choices.

1 – Keep a solid, consistent record of your accounts, keeping on top of things and end up paying exactly what you expect comfortably, or;

2 – Forget about receipts and keeping a balance sheet or even half an eye on finances and, half way through February, get stumped with a huge, totally unexpected tax bill plus the fine for late submitance which you can’t repay and end up getting into an unfillable hole of debt.

A no brainer right?  Absolutely, an obvious decision.  The worrying thing is that the latter option is what we do with our health year in year out, and if we carry on being so ignorant about our health, guess what, at some point you WILL, without a doubt, be left with a bill you will NEVER be able to pay back, that’s it…too late!

‘At some point we will sit down to the banquet of our consequences’.

Robert Louis Stevenson

 

So really, we shouldn’t be waiting for the ‘Awareness’ of a problem, we should be taking small steps or making small changes every-day, steps we can easily fit into our routine and changes you can make that you won’t even notice 3 weeks after starting.  6 months down the line you’ll wonder how you ever lived ‘the old way’ and what’s more you’ll feel better, look better and live better!

“But no small steps can prevent ALL diseases and illnesses, I’m bound to come down with something sooner or later, that’s just life!”

Well, no it’s not, that’s the pattern of life we’ve come to see as being ‘normal’, but hey, ‘normal’ isn’t good enough, and it’s not something you should just reside yourself to and accept, especially when the alternative is so simple and so achievable!

The key to creating long lasting positive change in your health is exactly the same process as creating dysfunction and disease…habits.  By the age of 20 we’ve doubtless formed more negative habits than we’ve had hot dinners, so what’s to stop us developing a handful of good ones?  Especially considering they WILL both lengthen and improve your life significantly.

So take each one of the following habits and focus on ONE AT A TIME, every day, for two weeks at a time.

1 – Drink 1 litre of room temperature water containing half a squeezed lemon and ½ teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda on waking and at least 40 minutes before lunch and dinner.

 

2 – At lunch and dinner cover ¼ of your plate with protein, ¼ with naturally gluten free carbohydrate (rice, sweet potato, squash…) and ½ of the plate with fresh vegetables, mostly greens.

 

3 – Rotate your foods!  – As is human nature, when we find a good thing, we stick to it!  When food’s concerned, that can be problematic, even with ‘good’ foods like meat, fish, vegetables and fruits.  Once we consume one specific food 7 days in a row we start to develop intolerance to that food.  Food intolerances can swiftly develop into chronic illnesses and conditions such as infertility, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Motor Neurone Disease, obesity, bowel cancer, types 1+2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, depression and behavioural issues in children.  More than anything else however consumption of foods we have developed intolerances to has a disastrous effect on possibly THE most important function of our body for health and wellbeing, our digestion.  Impaired digestion will hamper bodily functions across the board, from nutrient absorption and brain function to fat loss and immunity.

So what to do?  The general rule here is that you can’t eat the same food more than 3 days in a row.  That goes for specific meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts etc.  Food rotation, as well as keeping your digestion strong and efficient, gets you thinking more about what you eat and the choices you make, the first step to accountability and sustainable results!

For a food rotation template you can e-mail either myself (alexweareprimal@gmail.com) or Samantha (samanthaweareprimal@gmail.com) and we’ll send you a copy.

 

There you go, 6 weeks to form 3 positive habits to begin to change your life for the better!

 

‘One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time’

John Wanamaker

‘When the fish are sick, change the water!’

As the old adage goes, when you’re made aware of something, you start to see it everywhere! Samantha and I have had a lot of conversations with people recently who are stuck, through no fault of their own, in the mind-set that ‘if it’s in my family history, I’m doomed to the same fate, no matter what!!’ Is this you? Has the thought ever crossed your mind, no doubt leaving you feeling helpless and at the mercy of your dratted family tree?!
Well the first thing that strikes me is how utterly depressing this thought process is and how that alone is likely to bring you down with something even if it’s not the predestined noose you were expecting.
The first part of this post takes a more emotional stance in the sense that self-fulfilling prophecies are more than just a fanciful notion, they’re absolutely real and the power of the mind is something we absolutely mustn’t take for granted! I was once told that ‘where focus goes, energy flows’, and while at the time I admit it was lost on me I now understand that this is undoubtedly true, equally in a positive and negative light. Once you start to tell yourself something, be it ‘I can’t lose weight’, ‘I’m a hard gainer’, or ‘I’m going to get cancer at some point in my life’, you flick the first domino on the track to getting there. The reason for this is that, at the deepest level, our cells simply act according to the messages they’re sent by our brain and our perception of things. To illustrate this point read the excerpt below from Phil Richards’ excellent ‘The Ultimate Strength and Conditioning Book’ about how incredibly effective placebos have been found to be in the treatment of illness and disease.
‘Dr. Bruce Mosely, an orthopaedic surgeon and renowned for the surgeries he performed on people with debilitating knee pain, designed a study to prove how effective his knee surgery was. The patients in one group of the study got Dr. Mosley’s famous surgery. The other group of patients underwent sham surgery, during which the patient was sedated, three incisions were made in the same location as the real surgery, and (at the same time) the patient was shown a pre-recorded tape of someone else’s surgery on the video monitor. Dr. Mosley even splashed water around to mimic the sound of the lavage procedure. Then he sewed the knee back up.’
‘As expected, one third of the patients getting the real surgery experienced resolution of their knee pain. But what really shocked the researchers was that those getting the sham surgery were actually having less knee pain than those getting the real surgery. One placebo surgery patient said, “The surgery was 2 years ago and the knee has never bothered me since. It’s like my other knee now.”’

Incredible huh? And don’t think that your negative self-talk is any different because to your cells, your life force, it’s exactly the same and they will act accordingly, led by the messages it receives from your thoughts and subsequently, your actions.
‘All that we are is the result of what we have thought’
Buddha

The other danger with having such defeatist thoughts floating around upstairs is that you start to create an environment in which the only option your body has is to get sick. When I say environment in this context I talk of both your external environment, your surroundings, work life, friends, family, the food you eat, your daily habits etc, and your internal environment, the health of your vital organs (brain, heart, gut etc) and their building blocks, your cells.
It is a little known fact that the germs or pathogens of disease are in fact not the cause but a result of ill health. Take the mosquito analogy for instance. ‘As Rudolph Virchow wrote, “Mosquitos seek the stagnant water, but do not cause the pool to become stagnant” (Taken for Dr. Robert O. Young’s ‘The Ph Miracle – Balance your diet, reclaim your health’). Similarly, blaming disease on the germ is akin to blaming the fire on the fireman, just because they’re present at the scene does not make them the culprit. One of the originators of this idea was Biologist Antoine Bechamp who found, contrary to Louis Pasteur’s (creator of pasteurisation) ‘germ theory’ which supposes that the germ is the sole villain, that the ‘terrain’ is the deciding factor in whether a person gets ill or not. In fact Louis Pasteur, on his deathbed, conceded that indeed Bechamp was correct, that it was the terrain and not the germ that was of utmost importance.
So what is our ‘terrain’? And what implications does this have on our health and the control we have over it? Well this is where our title comes in.
‘If the fish are sick, change the water!’
Dr. Robert O. Young

In this analogy the fish are our cells and the organ systems of our body and the water is the fluid and blood they swim in. By living and working in high stress, polluted environments, smoking, eating processed, non-organic foods, drinking too much alcohol and caffeine and harbouring poisonous thoughts and emotions we cause the ‘water’ to become highly acidic, deoxygenating our cells and our organ systems making them mouldy, causing fungus to grow and cancers to develop and eventually killing them.
One of the finest writers I’ve found to explain this topic is Biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of ‘The Biology of Belief’. In his book Dr. Lipton explains how, in the study of cells, our mirror image, it is the quality of the outer cell membrane and not the DNA of the cell that plays the biggest role in ultimate cell health. This is so because the outer cell membrane is the only thing protecting the cell from the potentially dangerous substances outside. Think of the outer cell membrane as the cell’s equivalent of an immune system, it’s defence from outer pathogens and bacteria. Just like outer cell membrane, over time, through repeated exposure to a toxic external environment through poor food, drink and lifestyle habits, our defences become weakened and start to pollute our internal environment, lighting the way and letting down the draw-bridge to any passing bugs and bacteria. As Dr. Young explains, the proof of the pudding is in such examples as the Black Plague or the flu epidemic of 1918 which killed around 30 million people. It can be seen in both instances that the effects of the diseases would be completely different from one house to the next, even from one family member to another! While a member of the family perished, another would survive with little to no ill effects.

So what are the best, most effective ways to improve and protect our inner environment and really bulletproof ourselves? Well here’s our top 10!…

1. Drink an alkalising drink of ½ teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda, ½ a squeezed lemon and 500ml water 3 times daily, 40 minutes before main meals. This improves our Ph balance and oxygenates our cells, vastly improving their function and thus our health.
2. Eliminate poisonous, toxic thoughts (and people) from your life.
3. Drink 1 litre of filtered water per 25kg’s of bodyweight per day. (Always round up to the nearest litre!)
4. Cover at least half of your plate with green vegetables at each main meal.
5. Reduce your use of mobile phones and the internet. If you must use a mobile phone a lot use a hands free set. Never have phones, computers or televisions in the bedroom and turn any in the household off 40 minutes before going to sleep.
6. Exercise HARD at least 3 times per week AND take the appropriate rest days dependent upon workout intensity. If you work hard enough you should literally be forced to take a day off between workouts.
7. Cut out grains and processed foods.
8. Spend as much time in nature as you possibly can.
9. Have an outlet that makes you belly laugh every day!
10. Help people, whenever, wherever and however you can!

‘Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.’
Buddha

The lost art of logic

I was made aware of a study last week in which four school girls from Denmark had attempted to find whether or not the radiation from a mobile phone was detrimental to people’s health. The study involved two plants in separate rooms, one flanked by two wi-fi routers and the other, the ‘clean’ plant with none. The results of the study could then be used to surmise whether indeed such levels of radiation would be harmful to people at a cellular level.
At the end of the study the ‘clean’ plant was found to have flourished, growing vibrant green leaves while the ‘wi-fi’ plant failed to survive and resulted in shrivelled brown stems. Therefore, at it is my belief that, the radiation emitted by the wireless routers may have had a disastrous effect on the plant down to a cellular level. I also believe, through knowledge gained from other sources such as Dr Bruce Lipton’s ‘The Biology of Belief’, that we need to be extremely careful with how much close contact we have with devices such as wi-fi routers, mobile phones and televisions, if not solely because of radiation the for exposure to electro-magnetic frequencies (EMF’s) preventing mental clarity, true focus and effective sleep.

But it’s not the conclusion of the study that I’m interested in here, it’s the response the study’s received from the fitness and science communities. A quick Google search revealed numerous lengthy posts questioning the validity of the study and giving it the dreaded ‘bad science’ seal of disapproval.

Now I’m not disputing that the controls of the study weren’t appropriate to make a cast iron judgement as to the cellular effect of radiation emitting devices but in my opinion, in this instance, they don’t need to be and the bull headed trend in throwing out the results of a study deemed to contain ‘bad science’ is illogical and narrow minded. I agree that there are subjects of study with grey areas too broad not to require tightly controlled study in order to develop a greater understanding of the subject matter. However, some topics centered around mainstream, broad health improvements are much more black and white, too black and white to be discredited based on the absence of a placebo.
In the Danish study, the plant in the same room as the wi-fi routers died. Was it because of the radiation? Based on this study, we don’t know, yet the fact remains that internet routers and mobile phones emit significant amounts of radiation. Could this be harmful? Absolutely! Does it need to be proven beyond a doubt? In my opinion, absolutely not! Instances of cancer and neurological diseases have increased exponentially since the dawn of the technological age, coupled with the increasingly convenience, reward, cost driven food industry, things are unlikely to get better unless we tale significant steps forward in learning from the past. In innumerable ways we’re better off now than we ever have been but in equal measure things, particularly related to health, are immeasurably worse. We assume that because the healthcare system is better now than it ever has been, that we’re in better health, but guess what, as with all big business, supply has to meet demand and if, as a collective, we weren’t getting sicker, the healthcare system wouldn’t be forced to develop and improve.

There are a great many factors, of course, that contribute to the current state of things, some we can effect, some we can’t. One of the biggest, most dramatic things we can do today, is use logic and get used to making informed decisions. Anthony Robbins talks of ‘building our decision making muscles’ and this is absolutely true in relation to food. More, however, than making an empty decision we need to rediscover the lost art of logical thinking and then making a strong decision based on that logic. So what’s the easiest ‘logical’ question to ask yourself when doing anything? Try any of these on for size…

“Will this benefit my health in the long term?”
“Will this get me to a better place?”
Or more simply, “Will this better me?”
The ultimates for me continue to be…
“Will this move me towards my goal or away from it?” or “Will this make things easier for me or harder?”

The key here really is to ask yourself more questions, talk with yourself honestly and engage your brain and your logic. The more you do, and the more you relate it to your health and your quality of life and that of your family, the better your decisions will be and ultimately, the better your health.

Closing the door on acceptance

It’s winter, it’s cold outside, it’s warm in here, people are content, happy with their gingerbread lattes and peppermint mochas in Pod, Regents Place.
Being so fascinated by human nature it’s impossible not to notice that maybe 1 in 30 of Pod’s customers opens the door and gets it firmly stuck on the welcome matt. The cold breeze immediately whips in and around the place and people begin to wriggle with discomfort.

The next few people through the doorway make a valiant yet feeble attempt to close the door, fail, and move on. Soon enough the attempts stop as newcomers decide, ‘this is how the door is here, this is an ‘open door’ establishment. It’s freezing outside but there’s no way I’m going to disrupt the natural order, I’ll leave the door open!’
This continues for 20 minutes or so until it starts to become the deciding factor between eating in or taking away, ‘oh no, I’ll take away please, it’s way too cold to eat in here!’

Then, in a confident but unassuming manner, someone walks in and stops 3 feet inside the door. Expression of discomfort welded with disbelief she turns around and forcefully, defiantly pushes the door until it closes. The seated customers collectively huff, ‘FINALLY, someone had the sense to close that bloody door!’
The more I thought about this little snapshot of human existence the more I could see the carry-over to how things often pan out.

Someone comes along who either intentionally or not does something (X), be it good or bad, that affects us as a community and maybe even as a species. A few people may test it’s foundations at the outset but then soon enough (X) is taken as gospel, ‘that’s just the way it is!’, often entirely mindlessly without any consideration as to whether (X) benefits the individual in that moment or the wider community in the longer term.

What it then takes is the maverick to come along and question what they’re experiencing, make a measured decision as to whether the current state of things is optimal. If the answer is no, every effort is made to change the existing paradigm and to improve things. What determines how successful people are in creating lasting change? Often as little as two things I think,
1. How cold they are,
2. How much they want to ‘eat in’ over ‘taking out’.

Put yourself in an industry or niche that you care so much for and have so much love for that you are the one creating the change and influencing the world in a fiercely positive way! What do you love doing and why do you love doing it? Answer those questions and run with it! Don’t sit around getting frost bite!

What’s it all about? If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything!

I (Alex) was having a conversation with a friend a while back who I hadn’t seen for a while and so we were catching each-other up on all things business and what each of us is up to right now. He told me his exciting news and then we got onto the topic of We are Primal. “The site looks great”, he said, “and I’ve followed you on Facebook”, he continued, “but I’m still not totally clear what it is you actually do!” Now this, however embarrassing at the time, was immensely powerful and taught me a valuable lesson…that however obvious or clear you perceive a message to be to you, it undoubtedly never is for the intended recipient.

Now Max is certainly no health and fitness novice so if he hadn’t received our message loud and clear what hope do the people who really need help and guidance and a thorough education in health have? Absolutely none!

So with the first We are Primal Blog we’re going to do something that not a lot of trainers or people in general do nearly enough and that’s explain what it is we ACTUALLY DO and more importantly, what we STAND FOR!

It hasn’t been until recently after studying some of Travis Jones and Daniel Priestley’s work and listening to Dax Moy on Paul Mort’s podcast that I’ve really understood the importance of being able to communicate your values as a person and a company and how those values can help people. I’ve always known what I stand for at a given point in my life and I have great clarity of our values and beliefs about health and fitness and Samantha and I are building We are Primal out of those very bricks. However, just as ideas without action never materialise, a message without communication is never heard.

So what are the foundations that We are Primal is built upon, what are bricks and mortar that shape it?

1. Freeing up Limitations

Limitations in this sense could be nutritional, physical or emotional. Experience has shown us that restriction of dietary options, training program or mind-set are the biggest causes of failure to achieve health and fitness goals. We feel the best methods of nutrition are the ones that allow for free range of movement within clearly defined healthy ‘real food’ parameters. In terms of training, the ones that develop maximal strength yet also allow for optimal movement and improvements in ‘natural’ movement patterns.

2. The further we move from nature, the further we move from health.

Be it in geographic location, training style or nutrition we believe the above statement to be true. We can’t often do too much about where we work and because of this often where we live, but we can certainly effect the last two. Keeping as far away from processed refined foods and machine based exercise programs will see us a long way towards an optimally healthy body that moves well and ‘moves well’.

3. Eating well and getting fit, strong and mobile are our primary goals, getting leaner is a by-product.

It’s extremely important to us that the primary focus is the primary focus. People often focus on the outcome of the journey too much without paying enough attention to what it really takes to get there. Instead of creating neurosis by fixating on body fat %’s we instead change the focus to how to get strong and fit and implement clean eating and less toxic living into every-day life. Master these and you’ll get caveman lean without even realising it!

4. True health and physical fitness is a nourishing lifestyle not an empty quick fix.

We should be making the effort to create more active, more vibrant lives all year round instead of shoe horning all of our fitness efforts into the 6 weeks before we go on holiday every year. Health and fitness shouldn’t have an ‘offseason’, for the sole reason that it shouldn’t feel like so much of a chore or a bother that you need to get away from it!

5. Health and fitness improvements should be achievable in a way that also makes them sustainable way beyond the parameters of any program.

Again, this is about life, about creating a lifestyle that enables you to sustain high levels of health and fitness all year round, not just for a 12 week program, a photo-shoot or a competition. That’s why we don’t do ‘aggressive dieting’, we don’t do restrictive nutrition plans and we don’t give clients anything they couldn’t feasibly keep up long term.

6. Our training allows people to re-connect with their bodies and to use them in instinctive ways, strengthening the body itself and the connection between the body and the mind.

7. A healthy lifestyle should relieve stress, not cause it.

We get put under so much daily stress now that even 100 years ago simply didn’t exist. Health and fitness should be the ultimate de-stressor and certainly shouldn’t add to our ever growing laundry list of concerns and pressures.

8. The body and the mind should be regularly tested and challenged in order to develop and to improve.
This comes down to stimulation and engagement.

Getting people to exercise within their own perceived comfort zone consistently just breeds content and disillusions people into thinking that results will come without too much effort. The modern western world generally poses us no risk on a day to day basis and we’re very rarely challenged and physically measured. This process is natural and ‘back in the day’ it kept our central nervous system stimulated and our neural pathways sharp allowing for optimal physical and mental performance.

So that’s what we are and that’s what we do. That’s not to say that these won’t change and evolve over time, that’s how it should be when we continue to learn and develop, the key values, however, remain the same.
Write down 8 things you stand for in your career or in your life, define what it is you do and make it known, you may be the breakthrough people are looking for.

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