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Paleo Fitness: A Primal Training and Nutrition Program to Get Lean, Strong and Healthy Paperback – June 11, 2013
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"With Paleo Fitness Darryl has distilled the essence of Paleo nutrition and Primal fitness into plain English. He gives practical tips on how to get fitter, leaner, stronger and healthier than ever before by following the Paleo lifestyle. He's transformed his own life and is passionate about getting people to eat and move as nature intended.
This book is a useful reference to enable individuals just starting out on the Paleo path as well as those who want to explore more challenging, playful and interesting ways to move."
"You can't out-train a poor diet and you can't use diet to effectively combat a poor lifestyle. Fitness and diet have to work together and we believe Darryl covers this topic with significant expertise."
"Darryl has created a fascinating book which gives people something to enjoy when it comes to movement. Whether at home, in the gym, or even better outdoors!"
--Mark Sisson, best-selling author of The Primal Blueprint and publisher of MarksDailyApple.com
Paleo Fitness is mandatory reading for anyone interested in leading a healthy lifestyle. It is very comprehensive, covering paleo exercise and nutrition. It is a place to track your progress, the recipes are fantastic and the pictures are great for those who have never exercised.
"Edwards' writing is honest, and his heart for health and fitness shine through in the text. It's an easy read but by no means "light" - information abounds on every page, from references to scientific studies to a handy chart explaining healthy body fat percentages. Paleo Fitness offers the perspective that there is room for experimentation, there is more for us to learn, and there is definitely a place for play, even in modern, Neolithic life."
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Furthermore much of the information could be very hurtful. The part that irked me the most was the section on stretching. It suggested that "the best stretch is to stretch out like a cat or dog does in the morning" and "Research on other forms of static stretching have been found to be inclosusive." Are you serious? Do I need to list all of the professional athletes for have used yoga to keep themselves alble to play years past what they should have? Do I need to mentiontion the entire medical industry on sports rehab that includes many stretching routines? But this book claims that you will just "need to experiement for yourself." Hogwash.
The roughest part is the dieting section, once again, it has good stuff to say. But if you are paying $10 for a fitness book instead of a personal trainer then probably you are not going to be able to afford $12 a lb organic lamb for your meals. None of the food in here is something that the average American is going to be able to afford. There are so many good fitness sources out there. But this isn't one of them.
Since I met Darryl for the first time, I have made several positive changes in my life in terms of diet, fitness and lifestyle choices (primal / ancestral health approach), have improved my body composition and fitness levels significantly, and have never felt better in life, both physically and mentally! My training philosophy has also evolved over time to the point now where I am more interested in exploring movement rather than fitness. I think of fitness more as of a side effect of learning how to move properly and my goal (if one may so call it) is really just to build a broad base of movement capability so I can express myself joyfully through movement & play, more so in the natural environment.
About 5 months back, I decided to join an online Facebook program that Darryl started that was strictly based on the 12 week programming in his book "Paleo Fitness". Although I was familiar with Darryl's Primal Play approach, I was not quite sure what Paleo Fitness was all about, how it was different from Primal Play or why he even chose to call it "Paleo Fitness" for that matter. I was already doing some strength training & mobility work as part of my regular training so it was not easy to fit this program on top on what I was already doing but in many ways, I am glad I did! I did miss a few sessions here and there usually since I was not fully recovered but for the most part, I completed the 12 week program. I am currently doing a paid version (very nominal amount) of the online Paleo Fitness program with Darryl and a bunch of other folks, which builds on the 12 week program in the book and includes new movements, more challenges and fun variations! Having read Darryl's Paleo Fitness book, having done the actual program in the book, having participated in his Primal Play sessions and my own experiences exploring and learning a bit about different movement methodologies, I feel I am in a fairly good position to provide feedback regarding Darryl's book and his overall approach.
What I like about the book:
- It's thoughtfully put together, easy to read, easy to implement and above all provides a very refreshing, novel and nutrient dense approach to exploring fitness and movement.
- The movements in the 12 week program are described clearly with instructions and pictures.
- The movements are incredibly simple, safe, effective, scalable (geared towards 3 levels of fitness from beginner to advanced), varied, challenging, transferable, and enjoyable.
- The movements do not require any equipment (other than a pull up bar or park bench or a heavy object) or expensive gym memberships or gear and can be done at home or better yet outdoors in nature and with family (including kids) and friends.
- The movements are based on fundamental human movement patterns (walking, running, sprinting, jumping, crawling, squatting, lunging, pushing, pulling, twisting, lifting, carrying, balancing and so on) and are designed to be practically useful in daily life.
- Some of the movements are very novel (eg. animal walks, getup, toddler climb, isometric gorilla plank, dracula carry and so on) and something you would not find in most fitness & training programs out there.
- The program is designed to be extremely time efficient (30 min Movement Monday, 4-16 min Tabata Tuesdays and Thursdays, 30-45 min Walk Wednesdays, Fun / Exploratory Fridays and 10-20 min Strength / Sprint Saturdays) so it's perfect and easy even for the average person with a busy lifestyle to fit into their schedule.
- The program is designed around improving several attributes of health & fitness (strength, speed, endurance, power, balance, coordination, body composition and so on) and targets each one of the 25 attributes that Darryl mentions in the book. I must admit I don't particularly enjoy the Tabata sessions (since I find this quite hard based on my current fitness levels) but I think it is good and necessary to engage in brief bursts of high intensity activity to improve or maintain overall conditioning and health.
- While the Paleo Fitness program is structured and feels like a "workout" in some sense, this can be a great foundation to explore Darryl's "Primal Play" method which takes many of the concepts in Paleo Fitness to a whole new different plane through unstructured, free form and playful movement expression and is focused more on group dynamics and participation rather than the individual. Primal Play is also designed around improving all the attributes of health and fitness mentioned above but the inherent beauty of the approach lies in the way these have been "masked" around all the intangibles that one gets such as the pure joy of childlike movement / play (we all need to re-awaken that), social interaction, touch / physical contact, and fostering spontaneity and creativity. I can go on and on about Primal Play but I will leave that for another time and review!
Suggestions to improve the book:
- Could have placed more of an emphasis on exploring movement in the natural environment, more so than an urban setting. Of course, I realize everyone lives in different geographical regions / weather conditions and has to make do what is accessible to them but nevertheless there are just so many benefits of moving in a natural environment that one can never get from an indoor or urban environment.
- Could have been scaled better to include the older, sedentary population with generally low overall movement capability.
- Could have provided a better approach with regard to movement progressions on a few movements (eg. if one cannot do a single pull up currently, then the 12 week program would probably not get you there).
- Could have done better on the areas of mobility / flexibility / stretching which I felt was somewhat lacking. I believe a plastic / supple body is one of the keys to unlocking one's true movement potential.
- Could have provided some concrete ideas for Primal Play (eg. if you are with one partner, bunch of four people, or even a larger group of people).
- Could have named the book something other than "Paleo Fitness". I think his approach is applicable universally and not just to folks in the Paleo community but using the word "Paleo" might turn off a lot of people who might otherwise benefit from it.
What I like about Darryl's approach:
There are just so many things I like about Darryl's approach to fitness and movement so I am only going to touch upon some of them here!
- He genuinely wants everyone from a 5 year old kid to a 95 year old individual to discover the joy of movement / play. His approach is very "inclusive" and for everyone really, and he is not particularly interested in targeting the "elite" folks with high levels of movement capabilities unlike many of the other trainers / coaches out there.
- His approach and his own N=1 experiment has made him what I would consider a "movement generalist" and a "well rounded" mover, instead of encouraging people to become a "movement specialist" (think "Endurance Runner", "Power Lifter" and so on). As humans, I think we have evolved to move our bodies in a wide variety of different ways, across many different planes and ranges of motion, with varying speeds & complexity, and in a wide variety of natural terrain and under varying environmental factors and not necessarily become a "one trick" or "one track" pony! If one has seen Darryl move, play or display many of the amazing physical capabilities he possesses, you will immediately see what I am saying here. While Darryl may not move as gracefully as a gymnast or ballet dancer or win the next Crossfit competition or necessary be the best in one particular area of fitness, his well rounded and elite fitness levels and movement capabilities in his late forties is quite something to behold! Considering that he was very "weak", walked with a knee support and had constant lower back pain in his mid thirties, this is one pretty remarkable transformation!
- His approach and his own N=1 experiment has made him what I would consider to be practically strong in the real world or "farm strong" as opposed to being just "gym strong". For instance, it is one thing trying to deadlift a heavy "perfectly cylindrical barbell" in the gym and a totally different ball game trying to deadlift a heavy irregular object in the real world (think a big rock, log, a car, a heavy person and so on). I know this from first hand experience. I can squat ~230 lbs for 1RM but once I tried lifting a 135 lbs person on my back and I was struggling!
- While he trained Crossfit and other conventional disciplines early on in his journey to get to a fairly high level of fitness, for many years since he has only been training with his Primal Play and / or Paleo Fitness approach but he is possibly even stronger and fitter now than he was back then. I have often thought about this but having experienced his approach first hand and seen him do the things he can, I am quite certain it is possible to achieve this if one goes about this intelligently and in fact one may even surprise oneself with just "play". The best part of his Primal Play approach is that you are completely immersed in the process, participating (not "competing"), having fun and not necessarily thinking about any goals yet there is a training effect without even realizing it!
- His philosophy around training and movement is centered around enjoyment, practical usefulness, health and longevity (think fundamental human movement patterns and not achieving high level movement skills like a planche!).
- I spoke to him briefly at PaleoFX in Austin earlier this year and he mentioned how he thinks the Paleo movement has become kind of elitist (which I agree with) and how his vision was to make the Paleo lifestyle more accessible and affordable to people. I think he is definitely doing what he can to realize this vision and I highly commend him for that.
Darryl worked as a computer programmer in Investment Banking for several years before embarking on his new career path of teaching people how to play! It is not easy to leave behind a successful career and step into the unknown like he has done so I applaud him for blazing this path and doing what he truly enjoys!
On a concluding note, I would like to say that Darryl's approach has influenced me significantly in how I think about movement and fitness and is aligned to a large extent with my own movement philosophy "Train with joy. Move with joy". For most sedentary / inactive people and even for the more fit / active folks out there who approach fitness with a "work" or "train hard" attitude or are looking for something new, I think Darryl's approach is refreshing, well researched and is one of the best programs out there. I have seen first hand what his approach has done for several people. From a mom with autistic kids discovering the joy of movement and the development of the kids themselves, to a competitive beast in his forties taking his fitness to a new level despite very tight work schedules and a high stress lifestyle, to a woman in her mid thirties falling head over heals in love with movement after struggling all her life with her efforts to be fit via conventional training methods, to a primal doctor shedding her inhibitions and playing creatively like a child, to a family with 2 kids having fun "playing" out in their backyard everyday, to a woman with MS "jumping" for the first time in 5 years during a Primal Play session and so on, Darryl's approach has touched and made a significant impact on so many lives! While I encourage people to have an open mind, experiment with different training approaches or disciplines, explore the work of other great coaches / teachers and find out what works for them based on their context and preferences, I would highly recommend everyone to get Darryl's Paleo Fitness book, join the online FB group "Paleo Fitness Book - 12 Week Programme", and just take a moment to consider his approach, and support Darryl in spreading his beautiful message. Believe me, it may very well change your life in ways you cannot imagine!
So easy to read, so easy to grasp, deep content with a practical mindset... Read on this review for an almost complete description.
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
Knowledge workers, office and IT people, cashiers and engine drivers of all kind...
You spend your day (or night) sitting, always in a hurry eating fast/cheap/crap food, feeding yourself tantamounts of refined sugar in the form of coffee, tea and/or soda and pseudo-"chocolate" bars...
Bringing bucks of candies or bags of pastries to the office - so as to "lift up the ambiance" a bit...
Whining about the time you "don't have" for fitness... Unused gym subscription, anyone?
And if - like many readers of this book - you are a mother, you know first hand that growing your kids and attending your own needs are mutually exclusive goals.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
Absorbing this book will get you out of that miserable trap.
If you spend more than 1 hour sitting each day - or less than 1 hour walking each day.
If you want to recover your valuable personal time and money out of your [officiously jeopardised] lifestyle.
If you want to switch from the illusion of "attractive looks" to the magnetic power of "animal health".
If you are ready to stand up for your Human Animal birthright.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
You must expect to find yourself immersed and captivated within a split second.
As you will see when you start reading it, this book is precisely matching - and properly addressing - the limitations of your so-called "urban" life.
It stands to reason that you can start reading this book from any page; you don't have to start from the beginning to end.
This book is not a TUNNEL. It's an EXIT.
A healthy EXIT from the unhealthy TUNNEL you find your inner Human Animal currently trapped into.
THIS BOOK HAS ONLY ONE SINGLE NEGATIVE...
At the time of writing, it has yet to be translated into every language!
...AND SO MANY, NUMEROUS POSITIVES
The Index is by itself a refreshing and enticing panorama of your desired healthy habits - some readers even have reported entering the book from a fancy entry, only to find themselves "eating" entire chapters one after another.
If you make the 1-day effort to mindfully source their delicious and affordable ingredients, the mouth-watering Recipes chapter will turn yourself into an inspired chef within a couple days of playful and nourishing practice.
Both the Acknowledgements and About pages will give you ample appreciation of the author's background and genuineness.
Careful attention has been given to listing to the point scientific Resources - including their internet links so you can educate yourself further.
If you are the kind of person to cut to the chase, an incredibly effective FAQS part will provide with the necessary guidance towards your personal success.
Any expert in the Paleo Fitness field would immediately recognise the quality of the featured questions, and how well they are relevant to the daily concerns faced by the general public when making the transition to a vibrant and healthy lifestyle.
Speaking about success, knowing your Measurements will definitely help you rejoice from what is going on. Here again, they are explained and presented in such a clear and compact format that all you have to do is to keep them in the included personal logfile.
But wait - that's only for the Appendix!
RE-PROGRAM YOUR BODYMIND SELF
Almost half of the book is dedicated to Exercises, illustrated with a well-balanced stock of relaxed, unpretentious and altogether inviting pictures, featuring both female and male Paleo models (which speaks volumes about the author's thoughtfulness). Each and every article has a visually contrasted header, which makes it even easier for you to pick any movement anytime you want it.
The Weekly Programming chapter (placed just before the Exercises one) is there to ramp you up as gently and nicely as possible. Means, this book is one of the VERY rare which takes into account the progressive nature of BOTH your BODY and MIND. Indeed, your neurological system has its own requirements in terms of "reshaping", and you don't want to push your muscular system so far that you will develop a gap between the two. It is obvious that this book has been carefully designed in order to failproof your BODYMIND progression as a whole. With such a careful mentoring - and assuming you follow the Nutrition and lifestyle guidelines wisely presented in the book - you will never find yourself tired apart.
The proposed programming schedule is spread over 4 Weeks, at the end of which you are given the opportunity to cycle through an upper Level.
All 3 Levels (thus totaling 3 months of Paleo Fitness goodness!) are detailed into concise tables, where every Exercise is named along with its corresponding page number, so you are always one page flip away from their reassuring illustrations and guidance.
It is preceded by "What Is Fitness?" - a concise yet wisdom-packed chapter which will no less redefine your perception of fitness. Highly recommended, as the people who read it reported that it opened their mindset to a new world of possibilities and a HUGE simplification of their fitness experience.
UPGRADE YOUR NUTRITION
As already mentioned, the Nutrition Part is there to support the renewal of your bodymind by feeding it with the proper intake, hormonal power and sustainable weight-loss principles.
An awesomely tasty and easy to make "2 Week Paleo Meal Plan" (which you will spontaneously find ways to vary at will and well beyond that term) is laid out in the form of a CRISP and RICH 2-pager menu.
About 2/3 of the meals are feasible on the go. That means more time for enjoying your new Paleo lifestyle!
The other 1/3 are taken from the scrumptious items of the Recipes chapter. Here again, the corresponding page number is mentioned next to the suggested Recipe's name, so any time you would fancy yourself a Paleo delight, its details will support your inspiration as a one-minute chef.
The Introduction is a tactful yet proper demolition of the "Food Myths" - the many pseudo-facts which you are likely currently taking for granted, whereas they are actually keeping you stuck into the status quo of gradual disempowerment.
YOU CAN DO IT, TOO
A straightforward account of "What Is The Paleo Diet?" and the science behind it is provided, which is followed by what is perhaps the most moving part of the book: Darryl's Story.
A few years ago, Darryl Edwards was your typical IT engineer, facing the undesirable effects of middle-aging and feeling helpless about it.
By far one of the most experienced Paleo guys in Europe - and well-networked across the globe - Darryl Edwards nowadays personifies, practices and shares his down-to-earth approach to everything Primal with a whole generation of active urban people, helping them redeem their quality of life with authenticity and environmental consciousness.
If you are serious about your life, you must own this book.
Grab "Paleo Fitness" like a rescue hand, and by all means: Pull yourself out of the zombie crowd of deadly habits. NOW.