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Reflections on Six Months Primal
Urban Primalist

Reflections on Six Months Primal

It was mid-January when I stumbled across the Primal lifestyle via MarksDailyApple.com.  The logic was so compelling that I strove to implement the whole program, insofar as I could within the confines of my environment.  I began seeing major results almost immediately, and it became apparent that I was not just rolling back years of aging and poor health, but that I was discovering my inner human potential for the first time.

Before
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Now
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How I have regretted not taking better "before" pictures!  Please take my word for it that the changes were far more drastic than these pictures can begin to describe.

My previous life of being chronically ill and overweight -- which I thought was normal -- has taken on the character of a receding nightmare.  How could I have gone astray so badly?  Simply because my diet and lifestyle, which seemed pretty much average, amounted in fact to a slow-motion death sentence.  I was headed down the same path as many of my dearly departed friends and family members, who never knew that their terrible obesity was a reversible and preventable condition.

In the throes of my own carb addiction, I couldn't imagine a life without sugar, bread, and Chick-Fil-A.  I took the typical hedonistic view -- we've all got to die sometime, so one might as well enjoy oneself!  The sad truth was that comforting myself with bad food only made me feel worse in the long run.  Only after turning my back on my addiction to bad foods, and embracing the foods on which our species evolved, did I learn how joyful and fulfilling life can be.

These days, I'm so busy with my job and my family (including my ten-month-old son) that I scarcely have time for any extracurricular pursuits.  To think that for years, I spent 20 hours per week or more on video games alone!  Now I cherish every hour of every day.  I crave the sun on my skin, the wind in my hair, the earth beneath my feet, and I take every opportunity to enjoy them.  The whole world beckons as a playground, more wonderful than any imaginary realm.

On that note, I'd like to share with you my personal appendix to the Primal creed:

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Primal Laws 11-15

11.  Embrace cold water.
It has been about five months since I've felt a warm bath or shower.  In the bad old days, a cold shower was inconceivable.  When hot water was unavailable I simply could not bathe.  Now, I've come to love the feeling of frigid water on my skin at least once, often twice, per day.  Whenever I'm accidentally blasted with or immersed in warm water, it is distinctly uncomfortable.  My skin is now flawless -- no more acne, easily tanned -- and my hair looks better than ever without any shampoo or product.  Perhaps it wasn't just the cold water acclimatization that did this, but I am sure it played a central role.

12. Delay eating.
I was never a big fan of breakfast -- who's got the time? -- but it used to be that without lunch, I was a goner: migraines would set in shortly after noon and destroy me for the rest of the day.  Now that I've switched from carbs to fat as my primary energy source, I feel tremendously better in the afternoons after no breakfast or lunch.  I can actually feel my digestive system shutting down, releasing enormous amounts of energy to my mind and body.  I break my fasts in the evening, when I feast like a king on true primal fare.  Whenever I feel a craving, I'm comforted to know it will be gone by bedtime.

13. Bare your feet.
I picked up Vibram Five Fingers shortly after going primal, but following PrimalCon 2010, I resolved to go barefoot as often as possible.  The results were not pretty at first; my tender feet hurt and blistered constantly.  After a few months, my soles have thickened considerably, but three miles barefoot on concrete still raises blisters.  On the plus side, all my joints feel fantastic and I've recovered from a bad case of achilles tendonitis that had persisted for months.  I am much more surefooted, never slipping or twisting an ankle.  Barefooting also obliges me to slow down, pay attention to my surroundings, and respect the immensity of nature.

14. Carry a big stick.
As a member of the faculty of Shovelglove Community College, I've learned that nothing is better for upper body strength and flexibility than swinging a sledgehammer.  But it doesn't have to be a hammer; it could be a sword, or a spear, or a tree limb.  Whatever you wield, make sure it is long and clumsy, and swing it every possible way.  Our hands were made for rougher work than typing and channel-surfing.  Pick up a polearm and discover that countless generations of natural selection made you a born hunter.

15. Get more bacteria.
Modern culture has made a fetish of cleanliness to the detriment of our actual health.  The pathological avoidance of the tiniest germs has rendered us vulnerable to the infections that are inevitable for even the most compulsive hand-sanitizer.  I no longer go faint from bad smells or recoil from dirty conditions.  I happily run barefoot on the filthiest sidewalks and if you've just used the restroom, I'll gladly shake your hand before heading to the kitchen to handle raw bacon. The truth is, we can't escape the germs around us; although we learn to avoid the obvious, visible examples, on a microscopic level we are constantly bombarded.  Every doorknob and shoe sole is crawling with coliform bacteria.  The human immune system is designed to protect against exactly that, and when we're healthy we usually have nothing to fear from our local environment.  Indeed, our health can benefit from exposure to novel and benign microorganisms.

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So that's six months down, sixty years and more to go.  Plunge with me into the future!

August 4, 2010

All text copyright © 2010-2013 Timothy Williams