I have some really good news!

Getting fit and staying fit does NOT mean toiling away doing endless cardio. Though it may be difficult to believe, achieving optimal health does not mean you have to be an exerholic.  Since adopting the Paleo lifestyle I have embraced the “less is more” idea with regard to exercise. My new-found common sense approach to fitness is inspired by Mark Sisson. When I began gathering information about the Paleo Diet I started by researching the differences between the Paleo Diet and the Zone Diet.  Having read “Mastering the Zone” by Dr. Barry Sears in the late 1990’s I was well-acquainted with the idea of eating more lean protein and good fats, keeping insulin levels in check, etc…  But I wanted to know how the Paleo Diet and the Zone Diet differ and why I should follow one versus the other.  The website that came up in my searching was Mark Sisson’s blog www.marksdailyapple.com.  After reading about the dietary aspects of Paleo (or as Mark calls it, Primal) I began to explore more of Mark’s site and was immediately hooked.  Mark is a former world-class marathoner and Ironman triathlete who has created what he calls the “Primal Blueprint” as a way to health and wellness.  Included in the Primal Blueprint is what he calls Primal Blueprint Fitness.  According to Mark Sisson, following this “blueprint” leads to “functional, diverse athletic ability, and a lean, proportioned physique”. 

Primal Blueprint Fitness recommendations:

  • MOVE frequently at a slow pace: walking, hiking, cycling, easy cardio at 55-75% of maximum heart rate, 2-5 hours per week.
  • LIFT heavy things: Brief, intense sessions of full-body functional movements, 1-3 times per week for 7-60 minutes.
  • SPRINT: “All out” efforts < 10 total duration, once every 7-10 days.
  • PLAY

Using this as a guide, I have attempted to find the most efficient, effective (and fun!) exercise regimen for myself.  Right now the following activities comprise my weekly workout routine:

  • 1 hour willPower & grace
  • 1 hour Zumba (Play!)
  • 1 hour yoga or “yogalates”
  • 1-3 hours walking or hiking
  • 20 minutes of sprinting, once a week
  • 20 minutes weight-lifting, twice a week

That adds up to 5-7 hours per week but according to Mark’s Primal Blueprint, it could be as low as 3 hours per week. If I have the energy, opportunity, and desire for more physical activity I will most likely put in additional time in the “Move” category. For me, that would probably include walking, hiking, or yoga. I try to stay away from too much high-intensity cardio or “Chronic Cardio” which “requires huge amounts carbohydrate (sugar) to sustain, it promotes hyperinsulinemia (overproduction of insulin), increases oxidative damage (the production of free radicals) by a factor of 10 or 20 times normal, and generates high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in many people, leaving them susceptible to infection, injury, loss of bone density and depletion of lean muscle tissue – while encouraging their bodies to deposit fat.”

I would add it also leads to a misperception that fitness can only be achieved by those who have the time and will to put themselves through an intense workout schedule.  My husband, G, because of work commitments and a significant commute, simply does not have the time in a given week to follow the standard “Chronic Cardio” method.  He has lost weight and feels great following this more manageable fitness program in his relatively limited time.  We have both gone from discouraged to ecstatic that we do not have to kill ourselves to be fit.

In future posts I will go into more depth about what I have discovered in my search for the most effective and efficient way of exercising.  I will also get into more detail about my own experiences with my current regimen.  Until then, I’m going for a walk with my boys, SP and BB!

Me with SP & BB and Renoir’s “Rowers” at Grounds for Sculpture in Trenton, NJ