Making Paleo work: A more complete model for fat loss and body transformation

So let me tell you how this post actually came to be.  I mentioned on my Facebook Fan Page (if you are not a fan get your butt over there and become one :-)) earlier in the week that I was being interviewed by the ultra-cool Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness.  If you haven’t heard of Sean check him out.  He is a rising STAR in this space and a brilliant forward thinker who will do a lot to push the Paleo Movement forward in the next few years.

One of his ideas is THE PALEO SUMMIT. It is a series of interviews with some of the movers and shakers in the Paleo movement.  He will be releasing those next month to the public. People on his list include Mark Sission from Marks Daily Apple, Sarah Fragoso (my pal) from Everyday Paleo, Diane Sanfilioppo of Balanced Bites and Nora Gedgaudas author of Primal Body, Primal Mind to name just a few.

I managed to snag an invite (I think there is an online internet law that every summit must have one Canadian in attendance) and Sean asked me what I wanted to talk about.

Instead of responding with some lame paragraph, I sent him the graphic below and told him that was what I wanted to discuss.

[Click on the image to ENLARGE.]

The agenda…

So here is what I am going to hit on in this post.

  • the evolution of this idea from it’s original posting 3 months ago
  • a clarification of what Paleo really is
  • identifying who your opponents are
  • a brief description of the various elements contained in this model
  • a discussion on best practices

You ready? Lets do this.

The evolution of an idea…

For those who have been with me for awhile, you may recall that 3 months ago I released a post titled, Why people fail at paleo and what to do about it. The post was HUGE in terms of it’s popularity. It garnered 76 comments, and more importantly 1340 Facebook shares.  In essence, it was an introduction to what I was hoping would be the beginning of a PARADIGM SHIFT for people.

You see, it is my contention that people are failing with this, NOT because they lack will power or determination (both are learned skills), but rather because they are working with an INCOMPLETE model for fat loss and body transformation. They simply are unaware of the other elements in play that are holding them back from achieving the success they rightly deserve.

I attempted to address that in the initial post, but I have continued to tweak the model in an effort to give you THE BEST INFORMATION possible; something visually compelling that helps you better understand what a complete model for fat loss and body transformation looks like. The graphic you see above is the latest evolution.

And lets be honest, what is more visually compelling than a picture of me leaning on what appears to be air.  Is it the magic of Photoshop or are my abs just that damn strong.  Feel free to comment below. ;-)

Keep in mind that while I use myself in this example, imagine that you are at the center of this transformation.

OK so now that we have that cleared up, let me ask you a question.

What is Paleo really?

I believe there is also some confusion about how to classify Paleo. Some call it a diet. Some refer to it as a lifestyle. Others think it is some kind of system. In my opinion, it is none of these. Rather I see it as a TOOL in a much larger ecosystem of transformation.

You see Paleo in and of itself is NOT going to deliver us from our weight loss woes.  I know people think it will, but by itself, its useless to create long term change if we don’t have a clear picture of where it fits in the bigger scheme of things.

And to help you understand, I am going to compare it to something that is based on the exact same principles that body transformation is.

And that would be one of the oldest games in human history.

Chess vs fat loss and body transformation…

The goals of both chess and body transformation are the same: TO WIN! In chess it means to capture your opponents King, in body transformation it means fat loss to obtain a look you desire.

But you don’t win at chess by trying hard! You don’t win by having will power. You don’t win because you want to win. You win because you understand how to use the pieces involved to counter your opponents moves while still advancing towards your ultimate goal: getting your opponents damn king.

And that my friends requires STRATEGY. You need to think your way around a chess board and constantly re-evaluate each new move made and decide which move is next; all with the sole purpose of helping you WIN.

So too it is with body transformation. More often than not people are failing because their opponent has made a move and they simply did not respond to stop the bleeding. Eventually the damage becomes so great that failure becomes the only viable option.

So this leads to my next question.

Who are your opponents in this game?

As I see it, there are 3.

  • You

Without question YOU are your biggest stumbling block in this process.  You do more things unknowingly to sabotage yourself then the rest of the planet combined. But if you don’t see yourself as part of the problem and actively begin repairing the damage you cause, you will find yourself in this endless cycle of attempted transformation jumping from one silly program to the next thinking this will finally fix your problem. Oddly enough it never does, does it?

Begin to fix you and you will begin to fix your weight gain and health issues.

  • Other people

Yes other people can easily derail our success, but far TOO MANY people use that as their escape clause rather than taking responsibility for the fact that you let other people manipulate you like a marionette. It’s important to identify those people who act as negative triggers in your life, BUT it is more important to figure out how to deal with them rather than blame them for your failures.

Other people are not the problem. You not knowing how to deal with them is.

  • Life

Good ole life.  You gotta love it, but man oh man it just constantly has a way to knock us flat on our ass at times when we least expect it.  It’s important to understand that LIFE will derail you if you don’t realize it too is an opponent in your game.

Life’s sole purpose is to place obstacles in front of you. You either learn how to free yourself from each subsequent challenge it provides, or let it capture your spirit and hold hostage. You do get to choose though.

So now that you know who your opponents are, lets talk briefly about…

The tools at your disposal…

I interchange the terminology all the time. Sometimes I say tools, sometimes I say elements, sometimes I say pieces.  But there are 7 as I see it (btw feel free to modify this model to suit your own personal philosophy). I will add a bit more to what is already stated in the graphic above.

  • Paleo Nutrition and movement

I’m not going to rehash what each of these are because if you have been here longer than a few hours you probably know more about those elements than I do.  But I do want to explain the box that is around both of those.

The box exists because those are the only two pieces people tend to use when they are attempting to create transformation.  But that is like trying to win a game of chess with only your King and your Queen while your opponent plays with the full compliment of their 16 pieces at their disposal.  YOU CAN’T WIN in such a scenario. IT’S AN IMPOSSIBILITY regardless of your skill level.

  • Mindset

You are probably wondering why that is the only one that is in RED. Because I believe that is the MOST IMPORTANT piece. People think they fail at body transformation because they don’t know enough about Paleo or exercise or lack will power etc. I disagree.  They fail because they have this thought process that continually lets them down when they need it the most.

If people spend as much time working on developing their mind as they do studying about Paleo and exercise, then, and only then will success begin to happen.

  • Community

Think of this like a board of directors.  We need to surround ourselves with people who empower us NOT enable us.  It doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your friends or family (sorry that sounded Italian mobbish didn’t it?) who may in fact be enablers, you just need to know where to place them in your circle of friends.

  • Empirical Knowledge

This knowledge is different than that which you obtained to learn about the in’s and out’s of being Paleo. Empirical knowledge IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT. It is the knowledge you have acquired from your own personal experience and experiments you have conducted. Unfortunately, VERY FEW people actually do this.  They just keep doing what everyone tells them to do and when it doesn’t work they beat themselves up thinking they once again are lacking something that others clearly seem to have.

  • Environment

There are two points I want to touch on here.  There are really two environments we dabble within. One that we control (like our home) and the ones we don’t…essentially everything the moment we step outside our home. Those who succeed at body transformation do an INCREDIBLE job of controlling the uncontrollable. Those you fail do so because they think they are powerless to control the uncontrollable.  But you can.

  • Recovery

We spend so much time DOING that we forget that longevity of our doing really depends on how we actively go about and recover, whether it be the quality and duration of the sleep we get or the downtime we create for ourselves to have fun and simply ENJOY life.

And finally…

Best Practices…

I’m going to go back to the chess analogy for a second.  Do you know how someone becomes GREAT at chess.  PRACTICE. They spend time each and every day going over moves and strategies and how to deal with particular situations (most notably the things they struggle with).

Do you know what separates great shooters in basketball from average ones. The great ones focus on a particular aspect of their shot to practice and when they fail they can tell you exactly what they didn’t do properly (ie. I didn’t follow-thru)

Conversely, those who are successful at fat loss and body transformation are no different.  They practice all aspects of the “game” and when they do fall they don’t speak in generalities like, “Oh I lack will power or discipline.” They speak in specifics like…

  • I failed to plan ahead
  • I didn’t bring any back up snacks
  • I didn’t think through how I was going to deal with that particular situation
  • I dealt poorly with that particular stressful situation and it totally derailed me

In conclusion…

There is a better, smarter less painful way to transform how you look.  You just need to understand all the principles at play and spend time each day to master them.

To making shift happen,


Recommended Reading…

Over on the Fan Page, I was asked this by my pal Tashina…

Here is what I am currently reading and enjoying at the moment…

1. *The Dark Side of Fat Loss by Sean Croxton (it’s an ebook). I have linked to it for you.

I am looking to steal ideas from this guy. He has interviewed hundreds of big names in our space and has taken all that collective knowledge to put together something that is not just outside the box thinking…it’s outside the planet!!

2.* Eat. Stop. Eat by Brad Pilon (it’s an ebook as well). I have linked to it for you.

I realize what I did last year has taken me as far as it can.  To get to the next level I need to think outside of the box/planet. Brad talks about fasting in a way I have not heard others talk about it.  I like that!!

3. Mindset: The Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

I’m rereading this book. This gal is awesome. What I love the most is she talks about all the mistakes she used to make. I love people who keep it real.

*Because I LOVE both of those books above I have signed up for their affiliate program. What that means is, if you decide to buy the book, I would ask that you use my link as I get a % of the sale, a commission if you will. It helps me keep this site afloat. :-)