The Ten Primal Blueprint Laws

In my opinion, Mark Sisson’s Ten Primal Blueprint Laws provide the ultimate foundation on which to build one's dietary, fitness, and lifestyle practices for lifelong health and happiness. Here's my take on the Ten Laws.

Eat Plants and Animals: It's quite simple, really -- vegetables in abundance, meat, fish, fowl, eggs, fruits, nuts, and seeds. While there is, of course, some room for individualization, these are the fundamentals.

Avoid Poisonous Things: This list includes grains (wheat, corn, rice, etc), sugary foods and drinks, industrialized vegetables oils (corn, canola, soybean, etc). We’re all familiar with the age-old adage: “what doesn’t kill you is probably still promoting obesity, systemic inflammation, chronic illness and compromising gut, immune, cardiovascular, and hormonal function.” Okay, so I made some adjustments; but, seriously, just because you haven’t dropped dead, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drop the donut.

Move Frequently at a Slow Pace: Low-level aerobic activity is the most essential of the fitness principles. EVERYONE, from fitness enthusiasts to couch potatoes, can benefit from adding more general movement to their daily routines. Options include but are not limited to leisurely strolls, light stretching, or mellow yoga and pilates sessions. Get moving!

Getting in some back squats at "the Zoo."

Getting in some back squats at "the Zoo."

Lift Heavy Things: Good news! You don’t need to spend 2-3 hours in the gym every day to get (back) in shape. In fact, a 10 to 30 minute strength workout twice per week is all it takes to enjoy improvements in strength, bone density, fat metabolism, and organ function. This is especially important for older folks who want to maintain their strength and vitality well into their "golden years." Stick to functional, full-body movements; pushups, pullups, squats and planks can be done in your living room or back yard!

Sprint Once in a While: Brief, all-out efforts performed once every 7-10 days, when well-rested, are a great way to activate your body’s fight-or-flight response, releasing a healthy dose of adaptive hormones. This can be accomplished with good-old-fashioned sprints as well as low-impact options a stationary bike or rowing machine.

Get Adequate Sleep: We all know that getting enough sleep is paramount to enjoying optimal health, yet one-third of adults in the US fail to reach the recommended minimum of 7 hours per night. Insufficient sleep makes us more susceptible to stress, negatively affects hormonal function (especially those controlling appetite and hunger), and generally results in decreased energy and productivity on a daily basis. So what can we do? Unplug and unwind after dinner (and eat dinner earlier); create the ideal sleep sanctuary (cool, quiet, and dark); if possible, wake up naturally without an alarm.

Play: Yes, adults need to play, too! Leisure activity is an indispensible but oft-forgotten aspect of health. Whether you're tossing a frisbee around the yard or getting in a weekly game of pick-up basketball (this can count as your sprint workout, too!), unstructured play time is a great way to reduce stress, improve creativity, and enhance social bonding.

Get Adequate Sunlight: While sun exposure has often been maligned as a leading cause of skin cancer, health experts are now suggesting that the opposite may be true. Exposure to UVB rays is the body’s most effective method for obtaining vitamin D, which plays many vital roles, and has been shown to be one of the best known methods for cancer prevention. Just 20-30 minutes of sun exposure can provide up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D -- more than 30 times the amount obtained from the Standard American Diet. Vitamin D from obtained from sun exposure is also stored longer by the body, allowing us to stock up for the winter months. Continue to use caution when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time, but on a daily basis strive for 15-30 minutes, or about half the time it would take you to burn. If you live in an area where sunlight is limited, consider a quality Vitamin D supplement.

Avoid Stupid Mistakes: This one is pretty straightforward. Don’t text and drive; wear your helmet; don’t eat that wild mushroom that you’re “pretty sure” is a chanterelle. In general: slow down, avoid multi-tasking (which actually decreases productivity), stay present in the moment; who knows you may even find yourself enjoying life.

Use Your Brain: You may be thinking, “but, I use my brain for 40 hours a week, doesn’t it need a break.” Well, yes and no. This law is more about using your brain in new and exciting ways. Developing new skills is one of the best ways to increase neuroplasticity: learn a new language, create art, learn a new instrument. After years of writing myself off as “not musically inclined,” I recently started playing the ukulele and I’m loving it. As it turns out I’m not even a terrible singer. Crazy how self-limiting talk ends up being just that!

Five Steps to Establishing a Healthier Lifestyle