There's No "I" In Paleo: The Evolution of a Movement
Now that the Paleo movement has sprung from its infancy stage, I see a lot of change happening. I’ve attended every Paleo f(x)™ and Ancestral Health Symposium since the start. Where we once argued about protein, fats and carbs, we are now starting to understand that there are other important factors that affect health. No longer do we think that there is a “one size fits all” approach to nutrition; we now recognize that the ketogenic approach works great for certain people, while others may thrive on lots of carbs.
The Crossfit, one-size workout binge has passed. A workout for a 25 year old fit and healthy male is very different from what is appropriate for a 65 year old woman with osteopenia. We also are realizing that there are lots of movement modalities that can be used to maintain health. Some people thrive with heavy weight lifting often, while others feel best with a mix of various movements, less focused on gains and more focused on longevity.
We also see that lifestyle factors play a huge role in human health. To me, sleep quality is one of the most important and overlooked lifestyle factors that limit optimal health, and it’s actually the first thing I address with my nutrition clients. Time spent in nature, with others, disconnected from your screens, and simply enjoying life are also hugely important to the experience of being human. I’m thrilled that some of the leaders in the Paleo movement are taking on these topics.
This takes me to the point of this post: the concept of “I” in the Paleo movement. Over the past several months, as I’ve spent a lot of time working in hospitals with critically ill and dying patients, I’ve realized how precious our time is here. I look at how much time I have left and it’s terrifying to realize that it’s really not that long. The only things I can try to do are to raise happy, resilient, passionate children, and to leave a mark that makes other people’s lives better. Being part of something bigger than myself is one of the few things (other than my kids) that keeps me going.
As I’ve watched these changes in Paleo occur over the last few years, what I have noticed is that once people save themselves with proper nutrition, movement, and lifestyle changes, a few have really taken this new knowledge to dedicate their lives to helping others.
As the numbers of us grow, I see an incredible opportunity for us to really have a huge impact on the greater food system. Our rights to choose the food we feel is best for our families, the rights of those who work so hard to harvest our food, the treatment of the animals that nourish us, the environmental impact our food has on our soils and water quality – these are all incredibly important issues that we in the Paleo movement could really have a big impact on. Our healthcare system is set up so that we are treating the problems and not preventing them. By the very way this system is set up, this endemic issue is not likely to end soon. We just keep on buying more products, going into debt to make ourselves “happier”, when true happiness comes from living with less, being healthier, spending time with others we love, and celebrating life, and not on acquiring the next big brand pair of shoes, car, etc. I feel that there are a growing number of us in the movement that feel the same. The vegans and vegetarians aren’t going to do it, but I believe we in the Paleo movement can.
At this year's Paleo f(x)™, Robb Wolf and I will be talking about the importance of protecting food freedom – of the rights of humans to produce and purchase food they feel is best. I may not always agree with the food choices of my neighbors, but I do defend their right to feed their family how they want to. In a separate talk, I’ll be addressing social justice issues within the food industry, pointing out some major problems with foods like chocolate, which nearly all Americans eat, but most don’t realize is likely harvested by child slaves. I’ll also be running a workshop on how to become a real food nutritionist. Every year, I see more talks coming out about sustainability and other related issues, and I find it incredibly encouraging.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the movement continues to expand beyond how to get rock solid abs and into how we can fix some of the broken systems that have gotten Americans and our planet to such a sick place to begin with. Once you’ve saved yourself with Paleo, it’s time to remove the “I” and discover that with our short time here, we can make a big impact with what we’ve learned.