Saturday, September 4, 2010

Balance is Bunk

Balance is Bunk!

BY: KEITH H. HAMMONDSOctober 1, 2004

It's the central myth of the modern workplace: With a few compromises, you can have it all. But it's all wrong, and it's making us crazy. Here's how to have a life anyway.

It may be that you recently had a week that defied sanity. You faced an impossible deadline at work. You were expected at your daughter's dance recital, at a soccer game, and at a meeting with the kitchen contractor. Then another big project landed in your lap (thanks, boss!). You were exhausted, and your spouse was miffed. And your job? Well, at 11 one night, you finally bailed on that deadline.

And you wondered, What's wrong here? Whatever happened to balance?

The truth is, balance is bunk. It is an unattainable pipe dream, a vain artifice that offers mostly rhetorical solutions to problems of logistics and economics. The quest for balance between work and life, as we've come to think of it, isn't just a losing proposition; it's a hurtful, destructive one.

This is not, of course, what many of us want to believe. In the last generation, balance has won huge cultural resonance. No longer mere cocktail conversation fodder, it has become something like a new inalienable right, creeping into the American ethos if not the Constitution: life, liberty, and the pursuit of balance. Self-actualization and quality time for all!

This hopeful premise, born of the feminist movement, has been promulgated relentlessly since the 1980s by writers like, well, me. (At one point, in the name of balance, I actually diapered my infant daughter on CNN.) The froth fed a sort of industry, as consultants rushed to help businesses help employees balance work and life. That's the point of on-site day care, of breast-feeding rooms, of flextime and telecommuting and take-home dinners from the company cafeteria -- and, more notorious, in days of dotcoms past, of take-your-pet-to-work policies and foosball tables.

But the balance movement is fatally flawed. For those of us trying desperately to keep up with everything that needs doing, it poses two mythical ideals. If we work hard enough at it, one goes, we can have everything. Or if we cut back, we can have just enough to be truly content. The first obliges us to accomplish too much, often at too high a price; the second doesn't let us accomplish enough. Either way, balance is a relic, a fleeting phenomenon of a closed, industrial economy that doesn't apply in a global, knowledge-based world.

There's a better way to think about all this, one that requires us to embrace imbalance. Instead of trying to balance all of our commitments and passions at any one time, let's acknowledge that anything important, and anything done well, demands our full investment. At some times, it may be a demanding child or an unhappy spouse, and the office will suffer. At others, it may be winning the McWhorter account, and child and spouse will have to fend for themselves. Only over time can we really balance a portfolio of diverse experiences.

For now, the balance mania persists: Media mentions have soared in the past five years, and executive coaches say their clients are as consumed by the problem as ever. Employers, meanwhile, are trying desperately to say the right things: Accenture, the big professional-services firm, knows "how important it is for our employees to strike a balance between their work and personal lives." Google offers workers a slew of benefits (On-site dental! Dry cleaning!) billed as "balance enhancers."

But this passion and fury is misspent. All our striving for balance is only making us crazy. Here's how to think about living in a postbalance world.

The Happy Workaholic
Sigmund Freud suggested it first: Imbalance is part of the human condition. The father of psychoanalysis observed that anxiety is a crucial "signal" function, a response to danger -- either external physical danger or internal psychological danger.

That is, anxiety is a central part of our existence. It is a source of creativity and drive; it spurs us to accomplishment. Great leaders, serial innovators, even top sales reps may be driven by a kind of inner demon -- the need to prove themselves, to achieve for fear of being worthless (or, as Freud postulated, for fear of castration).

But it's hard to argue with the result: Such people are incredibly productive. They drive change. And that cuts to the problem with a reductionist view of balance. Simply cutting back on work inevitably fails, because in real life, success in work is predicated on achievement. In a competitive business environment -- which is to say, every business environment -- leadership requires commitment, passion, and, to be blunt, a lot of time.

This isn't a cynical argument in favor of clocking the hours -- though let's face it, in some organizations, that pressure is all too real. Rather, building something great, leading change, truly innovating -- "it's like falling in love. You have to abandon yourself to it," says John Wood. "There's the risk of inherent contradiction between wanting to do something entrepreneurial and wanting to have balance."

Wood is 40 years old. He helped build Microsoft's business in Asia until 1998, when, trekking through Nepal on vacation, he saw villages with few schools and bookless libraries. In response, he started Room to Read, a not-for-profit group that builds schools and libraries and provides books and scholarships to Asian children.

Wood isn't married, though he does date. He loves biking, running, and the annual trek that he takes with friends through Southern Asia. Mostly, though, he loves Room to Read. He'll do 11-hour days in his San Francisco office, have a working dinner, then check email late at night. He works seven days a week, year-round.

"I don't look at balance as an ideal. What I look at is, Am I happy? If the answer is yes, then everything else is inconsequential."

But here's how he thinks about it: "I don't look at balance as an ideal. What I look at is, Am I happy? If the answer is yes, then everything else is inconsequential. If you look at the number of hours I work, it's probably extreme. But those hours talking with an adviser over dinner -- is that work? Well, yeah, but it's also stimulating.

"At Microsoft, my definition of balance was getting a decent number of hours outside the office and off email. Now I don't care about that, because the email I check at midnight may come from a person who says he wants to endow a school in Vietnam. So I can't help but read that email, because it's a chance to change a kid's life."

Most achievers don't work hard just at work. They think about their work a lot of the time outside the office. Even if they acknowledge the value of paying attention to their families or their health, they're consumed -- and thrilled -- by the task at hand. Stewart Friedman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, and Sharon Lobel of Seattle University have a term for such folks: "happy workaholics."

Friedman, who has long encouraged business leaders to pursue "whole" lives, thinks it's possible for leaders to be "poster children for balance," as he says. But he also agrees that conventional arguments for balance devalue the work half of the equation. "Work is an experience through which much of life's rewards and opportunities for service can be realized," he says. "Creating value for the world, for the next generation, all our high-minded ideals -- much of work has the potential for giving voice to that sort of aspiration. And most executives are passionate about what they do.

"So if people are fulfilled through their work, why do we question that?"

Balance Is for Fat People
Pavan Vishwakarma is a 25-year-old freelance Web and e-commerce software developer. He lives and works in Bhopal, India, but he has done work for companies in Illinois, Nevada, and Canada. And he has, as he advertises, "no working hours limitation. I can work up to any stretch of time."

You want balance? Vishwakarma doesn't, particularly. He wants to work, and he'll work cheap -- a lot cheaper than you will.

The global economy is antibalance. For as much as Accenture and Google say they value an environment that allows workers balance, they're increasingly competing against companies that don't. You're competing against workers with a lot more to gain than you, who will work harder for less money to get the job done. This is the dark side of the "happy workaholic." Someday, all of us will have to become workaholics, happy or not, just to get by.

Tom Patterson has spent the last year setting up a technology operations center in Hyderabad, India, for MarketTools, the Mill Valley, California, marketing-research company where he's senior vice president of technology and operations. And he has been stunned by what he sees there.

"I'm amazed at the work ethic," he says. "People are hungry, entrepreneurial, and willing to do whatever it takes at great sacrifices. These kids are working for a change in economic status. Things that we take for granted like housing, health care, vacations -- this is what they're looking at. And the difference to them between $6,000 a year and $10,000 is huge."

Protest, if you like, against labor exploitation or unfair competition. The reality is, workers in India, China, Brazil, and, inevitably, everywhere else aren't stopping long to worry about it. They make our developed-world notion that workers actually are entitled to balance seem quaintly dated.

For years, work-life advocates have held up as a model the "work to live" ethic of Europeans, who historically have toiled fewer hours than Americans. But those would-be paragons are failing, too. The French government is reconsidering its decision in 2000 to reduce the national workweek to 35 hours. And two of Germany's largest companies, Siemens AG and DaimlerChrysler, have (with popular support) won union concessions that will force longer hours for employees.

If you're competing against Pavan Vishwakarma -- and ultimately, we all are -- you can't have both a big paycheck and reasonable hours. The laws of economics won't allow it. If we want time with our families, time to give back to our communities, time to stay slim, we're going to have to accept a pay cut -- and even then, we'll have to work darned hard. Hungry beats fat, every time.

The Superman Trap
For many, the great fallacy is not that we aspire to accomplishment but that we aspire to everything else, too. Unwilling to prioritize among things that all seem important, we instead invent for ourselves the possibility of having everything.

In part, this is the inevitable result of the rush of women into the workforce and the proliferation of two-income families. Can any couple facing two full-time jobs, kids, aging parents, groceries, the dog, the bills, and telemarketers at dinnertime expect anything but all stress, all the time?

But it's not just demographics; it's also desire. If women's inner voices in 1963 were saying, as feminist writer Betty Friedan surmised then, "I want something more than my husband and my children and my home," then today many (and many men, too) are saying something different: "I want it all."

So it is that Tina Sharkey, AOL's senior vice president of life management and community, finds herself on a plane two or three days a week, taking photos of her meal, the flight attendants, everything, so her two young kids will know what she does.

Sharkey's routine seems, to many who know her, mind-boggling. She and her husband, fully employed entrepreneur Seth Goldstein, live with their kids in New York. But many of her 250 employees are at AOL's Dulles, Virginia, headquarters. So she spends one or two nights a week at a hotel nearby. Even at home, her workday is a whirl; she typically breaks at 6 p.m. to go home but is back online from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. As "chief everything officer" of her family, as she puts it, Sharkey coordinates the children's care and family meals, and participates in what school functions she can.

She is an extraordinary woman who evinces both intensity and empathy. But her regimen poses a trap for the rest of us. If we work hard enough, we imagine, we can do anything -- and, therefore, everything. "Balance is misleading people," says Laura Nash, who with Howard Stevenson surveyed hundreds of professionals for their new book, Just Enough: Tools for Creating Success in Your Work and Life (John Wiley & Sons, 2004). "The problem is, they're looking for a magic bullet, a one-stop solution." It is a peculiarly American quest for perfection, for "a solution in achievements."

You've seen supermen and superwomen: They're the ones at their kids' baseball games, half-watching while tethered to their cell phones (been there). Or they're on the phone at work, sorting out child-care schedules and meal assignments with their nannies and spouses.

The problem, as Nash points out, is that while success at work is largely rooted in achievement, success outside of work mostly isn't. The things most of us say we value in our nonwork lives -- simply caring and being there for others -- aren't a function of accomplishing anything per se. Contentedness in that realm is less a matter of doing more than of cutting back.

Obvious enough, isn't it? Life is about setting priorities and making trade-offs; that's what grown-ups do. But in our all-or-nothing culture, resorting to those sorts of decisions is too often seen as a kind of failure. Seeking balance, we strive for achievement everywhere, all the time -- and we feel guilty and stressed out when, inevitably, we fall short.

The Book of Life
Do we throw up our hands then? We can't do everything, but neither can we retreat from the things that are important. How do we make work and life happen on our terms?

The short answer is, we don't entirely. But there are saner ways to confront the problem. One is rooted in the short term. In their interviews and surveys, Nash and Stevenson learned that successful professionals who were also happy had found ways to "switch and link" -- to switch the focus of their full attention with lightning speed among activities and people in different realms.

David Zelman, a psychotherapist and executive coach, sees this as a crucial skill successful people must learn. "Can you leave the office in the office? Can you give someone outside the office the same attention you gave your CEO? If you can give your children or your spouse 100% of your attention, even for a brief period, it goes way longer than compromising and giving them some time because you think you should."

The other solution is more about structure. It forces us to take a long-term view. Give up on the promise of balance at any point in time. Instead, consider a life and career as a portfolio. In each chapter, we have different responsibilities and priorities: children, home, travel, aging relatives. We face a corresponding variety of roles and opportunities on the job: a big project, moving up the managerial hierarchy, consulting, a startup, a top leadership role.

Balance, for what the word is worth, then becomes a lifelong quest -- balance among chapters rather than within each chapter. "It gets in people's heads that the ultimate goal is a 50-50 split between work and life," says work-life consultant Cali Williams Yost. "But there are times when I've happily devoted 80% of my time to work -- and other times when I couldn't." The tough part is recognizing the chapters for what they are -- just temporary episodes that together make up a coherent and satisfying whole.

"This is just one chapter in my life. I feel I have so much to contribute. I have to leverage myself and contribute in the way I can."

That's why Sharkey finds her current manic lifestyle acceptable -- because, she says, "this is just one chapter in my life." The opportunity to fix and build a business at AOL -- and to create something that brings lasting value to women and families -- is, she believes, worth the frenzy and the compromises. "I feel like I have so much to contribute. I have to leverage myself and contribute in the way I can."

Consider it an exercise in continuous redesign, in adapting to ever-changing circumstances and priorities. For couples, this also requires constant rebalancing of roles and responsibilities: You got the promotion, so I'll telecommute for now -- until my next big opportunity comes up. Those who succeed, says Zelman, are "the people who learn to dance with change, who create and ride the wave." They don't make decisions once or twice, but all the time.

And here's what's crucial: With each decision, these people invest themselves, their passion, and their time in what is most important to them. They also agree to give up something important; a portfolio life doesn't excuse them from the need to make trade-offs. The decision to reject the mirage of balance requires the discipline to continually prioritize and compromise.

Is that balance? Only in the sense that, over time, things more or less balance out. But that doesn't make it perfect, or easy. In some ways, it's counterinstinctual. It forces us to think differently about our careers and about the contributions we make in all realms of our lives. And it gives us a plan that's valid only until the next baby, project deadline, layoff, or illness.

But all things considered, it could prove a lot saner.

Rethink the mission.
Balance per se isn't a goal. "It's an afterthought, a way of describing the outcome," says executive coach David Zelman. Seeking balance is futile because it's an intangible and, so, impossible to measure. Better to set concrete objectives in areas important to you and plan concrete paths to each goal, Zelman advises.

Design a life of chapters.
Take your life for what it is -- a rich and varied story defined by ever-changing circumstances and priorities. Work determines just some of those. The object is to achieve balance not at any one point, but over the long haul. Doing so means deciding what's important, then ordering your work and life accordingly.

Within each chapter, do what you're good at.
A small portion of what you can do at work accounts for most of your value. So focus on that, and cut out the rest. For Bill Shore, founder of Share Our Strength, "the issue is, if someone else can do it, I shouldn't." The corollary: Find capable colleagues who can pick up where you leave off.

Redesign continuously.
Work and life are like a kaleidoscope, with many pieces shifting all the time -- and the chapters aren't always so distinct. "As my priorities change, I have to reevaluate," says Elizabeth Vandeveer, a vice president with the BOC Group, the British gas company. "I have to revisit what I'm doing regularly and justify it to myself."

Switch and link.
Harvard professors Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson say some high-performing executives can switch their focus "with lightning speed" among activities that provide happiness, significance, achievement, and legacy. That can mean taking a break to celebrate a staff win -- or leaving your cell phone behind on your vacation.

Pick your spots.
Not everything goes according to plan. And that's okay. "It's about not sweating the little things," says Tina Sharkey, an AOL senior vice president. "That's the only way I'm able to cope." When caterers came the wrong day for a brunch she was hosting, she didn't blow up; she just ate the extra fee and asked them to come back the next day.

Lower your standards.
Achievers are slaves to their own standards. Relax them, and odds are no one will notice. "Let's define what's negotiable," says executive coach Madeleine Homan. "Maybe there's a report that's expected -- but I'm going to do one that's twice as long and a day early? Really, nobody cares."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Learning By Example

I know you have heard many times that we need to do things the ''right way''. Look after the client, look after the company, follow the process, do the dishes, mow the grass and so on. How is it that we learn what is that right way? Many times it's from someone telling you what to do or giving you a manual to read or allowing you to mess up and yelling at you.

Our newest intern at the office, Ryan, reminded me today that some of our learning comes from seeing others do things and then repeating what you saw. Today Ryan made a cup of coffee, some strange concoction of coffee, ice, sugar and creamer. He stirred it with a spoon and then laid the spoon in the sink and walked away.

I walked to the sink to wash my plate and fork and chuckled to myself when I saw his dirty spoon lying there. I thought to myself, ahh you silly college kids leaving your dirty dishes for someone else to do. After I washed my dishes and his spoon I went to his desk. I asked him in a joking manner, how he thought that spoon was going to get washed. He said he saw someone else do that (just leave dirty dishes in the sink) and he wasn't sure if we had a dishwasher or if someone else did that. He apologized and said he would get it right away. I thanked him and let him know I had already taken care of it.

That simple answer, "I saw someone else do that" really got me to thinking about how we do things as we go through life. We have rules and regs and procedures and blueprints and such to help us be more efficient and communicate better and not get in trouble with mom or dad. But how many times do we do things because that's the way we saw it done before or that's just the way it's always been done without asking, is this right? Or is this the best way? Or will this confuse someone later?

I would encourage and challenge everyone reading this to not be the one that leads by a bad example, no matter how small. Take the extra step, go the extra mile, follow the procedure completely and not just for the client at the office but for your fellow coworkers and your family members that rely on you each and every day. Leading by a bad example shows a lack of respect to those around you and sets others, if not everyone, up for failure down the road.

Funny how something so small as a spoon in a sink can make you think. Thanks Ryan for that lesson today.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Definition of a workout

What's your definition of a workout? This person obviously has a different definition than mine. Enjoy!!

The Halloween Candy Workout: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Warm up

STRETCH your upper body and neck by reaching to the top shelf of the pantry for the candy stash you hid from your family.

STRETCH your lower body and hamstrings by bending down to pick up the candy bag you dropped because it is so heavily laden with delicious booty.

Step 2: Strength training

LIFT the candy bag and carry it to the coffee table.

SQUAT and sit down on the couch to sort through mass quantities of candy looking for
one ten all of the M&Ms.

FEEL THE BURN when you discover that the little traitor you gave birth to traded with her friends most of the M&Ms for Reese's.

Step 3: Cardio

RUN to the computer to tweet the following message:
Why do these candies say "fun size"? The big package should be labeled "fun size" and the small should be labeled "not as fun size."

RUN back to the couch for more candy.

RUN to the trashcan to
hide the wrappers inside of an empty yogurt container throw away the wrappers.

RUN back to the couch with an increased heart rate from the
sugar and chemical rush cardio portion of your workout.

Step 4: Cool down

RECLINE on the couch.

STRETCH and reach for your iPhone to send a text message to your friend about M&Ms.

STRETCH and reach for your iPhone to read a text message from your friend about Reese’s.

TAKE DEEP BREATHS upon learning that there is such a thing as dark chocolate Reese’s.

Advanced Program: Circuit training

JUMP off of the couch.

RUN to the pantry.

STRETCH while reaching for the candy bag on top shelf.

SQUAT down and sit on the pantry floor.

LIFT the candy bag, sort through its contents, find no dark chocolate Reese’s, and curse.

WALK back to the couch feeling sad.

RECLINE and pout.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


When I started on the blog journey at the beginning of the year it was a priority. Now as more time has passed I find that making time to sit here and type is harder. I feel that I have lost myself in the normal day to day with all that is and has gone on this year. So with the holidays approaching I am going to try and make the time to get back to writing things down and getting them out of my head. So many things I start seem to remain unfinished, partly due to me and of course partly due to the day to day of the world around me. Lots of things have gone on this year, some great and some not so great. However since I did not take the time to reflect on them and jot them down I may have missed out on learning something from them. Hopefully this won't be the case in the future or for anyone reading this.

Friday, September 25, 2009


--by Mary Monroe

Move over Billy Blanks, Deepak and Radu, there's a new health and fitness guru on the scene. His name is Jasper and with a remarkably short nine months of healthy living under his belt--make that collar--he has managed to create a relaxing and rewarding lifestyle that most of us can only dream of. As my exclusive personal trainer, Jasper has some unusual tactics--sleeping on my bed, for example. (He may have stolen this strategy from Madonna's old trainer.) It's all part of his dogged determination to coach me day and night on how to lead a life worth living. Here are the wellness secrets he's shared with me so far:

1. Kiss First, As Questions Later. What's the point of being stand-offish when there's a world full of people just waiting to love you? Bound up to them in the park, make eyes at them through the car window, jump on their lap when they sit down on the couch. Sure, a few will disapprove of the in-your-face style, but how many people can resist such glorious and completely unfounded affection?
2. Live for Your Daily Walks. Daily activity is the most important thing, no matter what, and never let it be forgotten. Make it clear that you will not tolerate a day without exercise. Pout, if need be. Cast a rueful eye at your companions and skulk pathetically around the house. Hanging your head mournfully on the rug is also effective. When you do get to exercise, let everyone know how happy you are: jump and spin around and lick everybody in sight.
3. Practice Frolic-and-Rest Interval Training. Forget boring repetitive exercise. The only way to work out is by frolicking at top speed for as long as you can and when you're tired, stopping abruptly wherever you are. Repeat. Don't do it because experts say interval training is ideal for improving fitness and managing weight--do it because it feels good.
4. Sleep Whenever and Wherever You Can. As long as you've had your exercise, you can spend the rest of y our time concentrating on the next most important thing: sleeping. It's best to have numerous favorite resting spots wherever you go. Show off your sleeping talents whenever you can.
5. Eat Joyfully. Life is short. As long as it's not poisonous and you're hungry, chow down.
6. When You're Tired of Sleeping, Play. You will probably have to encourage the duds around you to play, too, or they'll just keep right on working and paying bills and other ridiculously dull activities. Use your imagination and you can create fun games with anything--even old socks (especially old socks.)
7. Stretch, Shake and Roll Over Frequently. This is self-explanatory. How else are you going to stay limber and sharp for all that playing and sleeping?
8. Take Time To Smell--Well, Everything. The world is a wonderful place, if you take the time to pay attention. Every tree, every leaf, every breeze--even old laundry and garbage--has a story to tell. Sniff it out, and savor it.
9. Forgive Everything. Even if the people you love most in the world take you to get shots (or worse), forget to feed you or have a tendency to step on you. Assume the best: they probably don't mean it.
10. Never Miss A Massage. This may be the most important of all. Place yourself in rubbing distance of everyone you see, and practice doing cute and cuddly things. If you're playing it right, you can pretty much turn your whole life into one long massage. What could be healthier?

Author's note: if you can't find a dog who will act as your personal trainer, you can enlist the help of a cat. Cats, on the whole, offer a less predictable and more mentally challenging regimen. However, they charge more and are less likely to care about your progress.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Primal Blueprint

This is a repost of an article you can find over at Mark's Daily Apple.

How to Succeed with the Primal Blueprint

So you’ve decided to join the challenge. You’ve created your own Primal Challenge Journal and have publicly stated your goals for the next month. Now what? First things first. You have to know the basics. If you’re new to the Primal Blueprint the following article will be like gold to you. Revisit it again and again until you’ve committed the concepts to memory. The graphs and charts are visual representations of the principles that are at the core of the Primal health philosophy and give you a taste of what it is in my new book, The Primal Blueprint.

You’ve defined the “what”. If your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, increase energy or just generally look and feel healthier these graphics explain the basics of the “how”.

The Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve

What’ll It Be? The “Sweet Spot” or the “Danger Zone”?

Picture2 How to Succeed with the Primal Blueprint

Carbohydrate intake is often the decisive factor in weight loss success and prevention of widespread health problems like Metabolic Syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. These average daily intake levels assume that you are also getting sufficient protein and healthy fats, and are doing some amount of Primal exercise. The ranges in each zone account for individual metabolic differences.

  • 0-50 grams per day: Ketosis and I.F. (Intermittent Fasting) zone. Excellent catalyst for rapid fat loss through I.F. Not recommended for prolonged periods (except in medically supervised programs for obese or Type 2 diabetics) due to unnecessary deprivation of plant foods.
  • 50-100 grams per day: Sweet Spot for Weight Loss. Steadily drop excess body fat by minimizing insulin production. Enables 1-2 pounds per week of fat loss with satisfying, minimally restrictive meals.
  • 100-150 grams per day: Primal Maintenance zone. Once you’ve arrived at your goal or ideal body composition, you can maintain it quite easily here while enjoying abundant vegetables, fruits and other Primal foods.
  • 150-300 grams a day: Insidious Weight Gain zone. Most health conscious eaters and unsuccessful dieters end up here, due to frequent intake of sugar and grain products (breads, pastas, cereals, rice, potatoes – even whole grains). Despite trying to “do the right thing” (minimize fat, cut calories), people can still gain an average of 1.5 pounds of fat every year for decades.
  • 300+ grams a day: Danger Zone of average American diet. All but the most extreme exercisers will tend to produce excessive insulin and store excessive fat over the years at this intake level. Increases risk for obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid

For effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and maximum longevity

Picture3 How to Succeed with the Primal Blueprint

General Guidelines: 80% of body composition success is determined by diet. Limit processed carb intake (hence, insulin production), and obtain sufficient protein and fat to fuel and rebuild.

  • Protein: Average .7 – 1 gram per pound of lean body mass/day – depending on activity levels (more at times is fine).
  • Carbs: 50-100 grams/day (or less) = accelerated fat loss. 100-150 grams/day = effortless weight maintenance. Heavy exercisers can increase carb intake as needed to replace glycogen stores.
  • Fat: Enjoy freely but sensibly for balance of caloric needs and high dietary satisfaction levels.
  • Avoid Poisonous Things: Conventional Wisdom’s dietary guidelines promote fat storage, type 2 diabetes, inflammation and obesity!
  • Eliminate: Sugary foods and beverages, grains (wheat, corn, rice, pasta, breads, cereals, etc.), legumes (soy and other beans), trans and partially hydrogenated fats, high-risk conventional meat and produce, and excess PUFA’s (instead, increase omega-3 oils).
  • Modern Adjustments: Some modern foods that Grok didn’t eat can still be included in a healthy diet
  • Moderation: Certain high glycemic fruit, coffee, high-fat dairy products, starchy tuber vegetables, and wild rice.
  • Supplements: Multivitamin/mineral formula, probiotics, omega-3 fish oil and protein powder.
  • Herbs, spices and extracts: Offer many health benefits and enhance enjoyment of meals.
  • Sensible indulgences: Dark chocolate, moderate alcohol, high-fat treats.

The Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid

For functional, diverse athletic ability, and a lean, proportioned physique

Picture4 How to Succeed with the Primal Blueprint

Exercising according to the three Primal Blueprint laws will optimize gene expression and promote Primal Fitness.

  • Law #3: Move Frequently at a Slow Pace strengthens the cardiovascular and immune systems, promotes efficient fat metabolism and gives you a strong base to handle more intense workouts.
  • Law: #4: Lift Heavy Things stimulates lean muscle development, improves organ reserve, accelerates fat loss, and increases energy.
  • Law #5: Sprint Once in a While stimulates the production of HGH and testosterone, which help improve overall fitness and delay the aging process – without the burnout risk of excessive prolonged workouts.

The Conventional Wisdom approach to fitness is clearly not working! Stress is excessive, weight loss goals are compromised, and many are misguided to pursue narrow fitness goals that are unhealthy.

  • Avoid Chronic Cardio (frequent medium-to-high intensity sustained workouts)
  • Avoid Chronic Strength Training (frequent and/or prolonged sub-maximal lifting sessions ending in exhaustion)
  • Avoid Regimented Schedules (instead, allow for spontaneous, intuitive variation in type, difficulty and frequency of workouts)

All this and much more can be found in my new book, The Primal Blueprint. Order a copy today and start getting Primal!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Do The Hard Stuff

Well it's been a while since my last post. Mostly due to the fact that I have not had a computer at home and then some of it is that I have not taken the time to do it. Of course just like life, so many things have happened since then. Lots of working out, playing volleyball, family events, solo outings, tons of work and lots of other things. One great thing is that tomorrow July 1st is my daughter's 5th birthday. Amazing how time flies and that I have a daughter who is turning 5 and starting school next fall.

One of the bad things about how time flies is that you get older. Now for some of us that's bad enough in itself. For folks like myself who are competitors at everything we do it is even harder. I have stated before that I have to work so much harder to keep up with the young guns and play volleyball at the level I want to. Now that I have been CrossFitting for almost a year I have come to realize there are some things I am good at and some things I think I will NEVER be good at.

Life is like that too. However if we never tackle the hard stuff then we won't ever grow and change and allow ourselves to experience new and wondrous things. So I encourage you to do the hard stuff. Find that one or two things that you really hate to do, running, jumping, push-ups, pull-ups, laundry, washing the car or the dog, mowing the grass, getting up early, not doing anything personal at work.

Pick one and do it for a week. Day in and day out without fail and here is the hard part, with a good attitude. Find the positive in it and allow yourself to think on that. The more you do it, the better you will become and the more joy and experiences you will open yourself up to. It's hard, for sure. That's why you and I don't do ''it'' now. However we may find that someone else will enjoy the fact that we stepped out and did it. Who knows you may even find that something totally unexpected may come from it too.