To work out or not to work out

To achieve weight loss success on a paleo diet, many people think that they must get involved in extreme workouts to accelerate weight loss. For a lot of people, just the mention of a paleo person working out brings on visions of heavy lifting, box jumping, and insane cardio. Thankfully you don’t have to torture yourself at the gym to be paleo, you just need to stay motivated and find your own path.

First, remember that you don’t need to work out to lose weight. The biggest factor in long-term weight loss is your food intake. Focus on developing those positive new eating habits first. Trying to do everything at once might set you up for failure. Also, food will go a long way in helping your energy levels, confidence, and even your flexibility, so eating healthy now will mean better workouts later, if that’s the path you choose.

And remember, calories are important. While being paleo means that you don’t have to worry about counting calories, you still need to be thoughtful in your food choices. If you’re trying to lose weight, steer clear of paleo sugary treats and calorie-dense foods. If this sounds hard, that’s okay, at the beginning, it is hard. But think about the lifestyle you’ve led over the past few years. If you’re insulin resistant and are struggling with inflammation, it will take some time for the body to heal itself from your prior choices. The good news is that once you learn to prepare meals that will carry you for three or four hours, you will find that your blood sugar spikes and drops will quickly decrease, and you will feel energized and clear of mind for longer periods of time. This is important because you are less likely to reach for unwanted foods if you are feeling satisfied. Also, the steady energy will make it easier for you to find the motivation to workout, if you choose to.

If you are like many paleo eaters, at some point you will find that working out is something that you want to do. If nothing else, you just have so much energy that you almost have to get it out somehow. If you decide that you’re going to work out, but you don’t know where to start, think about how cavemen got their exercise. They didn’t go to the gym for treadmills, fancy elliptical machines or Zumba classes. The healthy movement was a natural part of their day as they built shelters, hunted for food, and lived as a family who relied on nothing but their minds and bodies for entertainment. If you find ways to incorporate more of those same types of movement into your day, you will already be making a difference in your health. Even easy things such as walking and jogging would be a good place to start. And there are easy ways to add these movements into your everyday life. For instance, if you’re going shopping, park a distance from the store and get a few extra steps in that way. Do some squats or stretches as you’re cooking. If you’re with your kids, take them to the park, pushing them on the swings and climbing up the sliding board with them.

If you are ready to make a workout commitment while you are eating paleo, Crossfit is very popular among paleo eaters because it mimics the body’s natural movements. However, gym memberships might be out of reach for some. If you don’t have access to a Crossfit gym, you can do bodyweight exercises at home. The only equipment you will need is some dumbbells or kettlebells, which can give you an intense calorie-burning workout right at home without the expense of a pricey gym membership.

Paleo fitness provides flexibility no matter where you are on your fitness journey. Consider your overall health. Are you struggling with chronic health issues? Other great exercise alternatives include rebounders, swimming and yoga. The most important thing is to lose the old “cardio burn” mentality and make healthy, natural movement part of your everyday life.

While it’s not necessary to do a traditional workout on paleo, there are certainly many positive benefits that come when you incorporate more natural movement into your day, including greater energy, sleep improvement, better mobility, and just plain old lifting your spirits. And of course one of the most exciting benefits is that your clothes will begin to fit much better.

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