Basic Guidelines for the Paleo Lifestyle

By Kellyann Petrucci, Melissa Joulwan, Patrick Flynn, Adriana Harlan

Your habits create your destiny, and that plays out profoundly in your physiology. Paleo can help you create healthy habits. Like it or not, the human body is designed to live a certain way, and the more you stray from nature’s blueprint, the more you suffer.

Sticking to the 80-percent rule

To get long-lasting results, you can benefit from spending at least 30 days eating a strict Paleo diet. After that, the 80-percent rule keeps you in check both physically and healthwise. The 80-percent rule means that if you adhere to Paleo principles at least 80 percent of the time, you’ll experience the benefits of Paleo. That said, you do have a little life leeway; you can adjust the rule to fit your personal needs.

This 80-percent rule assumes that you’re not trying to heal yourself of an illness or lose considerable weight. If you are, you may need to be 90 percent compliant or more for a while.

The 80-percent rule isn’t a license to fill 20 percent of your diet with crummy processed foods or go to town on cookies, pancakes, bread, or muffins — even if they’re Paleo! Sugar is still sugar, and too much of it is going to send you right back to needing a 30-day Paleo cleanse.

Getting more — and better — sleep

Quality sleep is essential for losing weight and being healthy. One of the most priceless factors when eating and living a healthy lifestyle is improvement to your sleep cycle. After your body adjusts to eating cleaner, more nutrient-dense foods, you find your sleep is deeper and more restful.

Eating Paleo foods can completely change the quality and duration of your sleep.

Becoming more social

No matter where you fall on the social spectrum, one thing is for certain: Your body is healthiest when you take some time out to be a part of a community or socialize. Your social blueprint is wired to spend time around others, enjoying yourself.

Although some time alone is definitely beneficial, be sure to actively include social time as another path to wellness. Joining a community or group of people with like-minded interests can really make a difference in your life.

Spending time outdoors

One of the most important shifts in your health is to spend time outdoors so you get sunshine. When sunlight hits the skin, a process begins that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D.

Sunlight is a nutrient. When your body creates vitamin D, your body fights colds and the flu better as well as osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, depression, and a host of other conditions. When you’re outdoors getting sun and vitamin D, your body also produces more of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which helps you relax.

You may worry about sun-related skin damage and skin cancers, but intermittent sun exposure actually increases your odds because you have a greater chance of burning, and burning is what causes your risk factors to go up.

How much exposure you need to get your dose of vitamin D depends on how dark your skin is and environmental factors such as how close you live to the equator or what time of day you’re in the sun. The average person usually needs about 20 minutes daily of sunshine at peak times. The darker your skin, the more exposure you need.

Start practicing the slow immersion process without sunscreen so you can benefit from vitamin D. When you get frequent short periods of exposure, you build a protective layer. Try to get sun earlier in the morning when you have less chance of burning and overheating.

Reprogramming your mind-set

Understanding your mind-set is essential if you want to embrace wellness.

Major influences in your life — parents, teachers, preachers, or whoever — programmed your current belief systems, which in turn create your reality. In fact, most of your programming is wired in your brain by the time you’re 18. Here’s where it gets really interesting: Your unconscious mind is responsible for about 95 percent of your thoughts during the course of a day. Therefore, the programming you received as a youngster is still guiding you through life today.

You may not have had any say in how you were programmed when you were younger, but you do now!

One the best ways to reprogram your mind is by using positive affirmations and journaling. You have to override all the negative affirmations that you replay in your mind by repeating your positive affirmations over and over.

Start by journaling your affirmations in a notebook and saying them out loud in the morning (before your mind has time to fight back). Use the present tense as if your affirmations were already happening.

Taking a technology timeout

Computers, smartphones, and other handheld devices are super convenient, but shutting down once in a while is important — your cells benefit from the break. Here’s why: Electricity goes hand in hand with electromagnetic fields (EMFs). When something is plugged in but not used, it generates electrical fields, or low frequency electromagnetic waves. The EMFs create an invisible pollution called electrosmog.

Everywhere you go, you find electrical poles, wires, substations, transformers, and the hidden wires in the walls of every building. All this electricity creates a dangerous electrical environment and places new stresses on your cells, similar to the ones produced by heavy metals or toxic chemicals.

You can’t live in a bubble, but you can take some steps to reduce your exposure:

  • Remove yourself from the source as much as possible. Make sure you aren’t sleeping near a lot of wiring or electronic devices.

  • Eat foods that naturally shield your body. Protect yourself against cellular damage by eating Paleo foods such as grass-fed beef, blueberries, asparagus, cinnamon, artichokes, garlic, olive oil, wild salmon, sea vegetables (nori), and walnuts. These choices are all superfoods for your cells.

  • Schedule a shutdown day. Take one day per week and completely remove yourself from all electronics. Completely unplug.