The Tao of Paleo: Finding Your Path to Health and Harmony


“Get a new plan, Stan.” ~ Simon and Garfunkel, Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover

“Everyone’s got a plan until they get hit.” ~ Joe Louis

JS: In the last 160 pages or so, we’ve thrown a lot of information your way. We’ve talked food, exercise, play, and rest. We’ve touched on carbs, fats, proteins, and supplements. We’ve given you a friendly reminder not to get too absorbed in the dogma and not to to sweat the small stuff, and we’ve talked about the mental aspect of change.

JG: Along the way, we’ve also trotted out a few silly figments of our imagination to help illustrate our points, teased each other mercilessly, and probably offended every major category of human, big or small, to one extent or another.

JS: It’s been unbelievably fun.

JG: It really has. Since the first few pages, we’ve tried to make it clear that while there are certain overriding principles, each of you is ultimately going to have to discover your own unique path. You’re going to have to find your Tao.

JS: Right. So in this chapter, what we are going to do is stop theorizing and explaining and present you with an actual template.

JG: We’ve used this plan extensively with our friends and family. We believe that following it will help you get healthy and lead you to find your own Tao.

JS: Eventually, you’ll discover what is unique about your own Tao of Paleo. You might eat certain foods that some of us don’t. You might have a different exercise plan that works best for you. You will develop your own unique style of play.

JG: Look at this template like a signpost pointing to the start of your own paleo path. Like a finger pointing at the moon.

JS: All that being said, like we’ve repeated a few times, we respectfully suggest that you do your best to follow this template closely for a while. At the very least, it should get you metabolically healthy and flexible. It should boost your energy, it should get you established in a sustainable, effective fitness program, and it should leave you feeling great.

JG: The very first piece of preparation you need to do doesn’t involve eating, sleeping, exercise, or playing.

JS: The very first work you need to do will occur between your ears and in your heart. As we discussed in Feel, many people have complex spiritual and mental issues with issues of food, fitness, and overall health.

JG: For many of us these issues are serious and real, and that they require inner strength and sometimes outside help to overcome.

JS: Unless you are mentally prepared to accept the fact that you can and have every right to be healthy, fit, and well, and to look it on the outside, it’s going to be very difficult for you to benefit from this template, and even more difficult for you to eventually find your own Tao.

JG: If you feel that you need an ace in the hole in terms of mental and spiritual coaching, our friend Cinnamon Prime (yes that really is her real name, not just her superhero name), nutritionist, coach, and overall mind ninja, might be the perfect solution. You could also check out another old friend, Jackie Chatman, who heads up Eating for Wellness, a health retreat and counseling program in Southern California. Jackie is highly skilled at helping her clients learn proper nutrition and exercise, and she’s a superstar when it comes to helping others deal with emotional and stress issues related to food, self-image, and habit patterns. We’ve included the contact information for both of them in the chapter of the book.

JS: Cinnamon and Jackie pretty much rock.

JG: Damn straight.

JS: Onward and upward.

JG: Once you are mentally prepared for a health transformation, the next item on your checklist is to prepare yourself for thirty days of strict paleo eating. The purpose of this step is to teach your body to stop being dependent on easily accessible sources of glucose and to relearn how to burn fat for energy. Any cheating, consumption of sweetened paleo “treats” or even consumption of excess amounts of fruit could derail or delay this process, so once you start, go hardcore and stay the course.

JS: The thirty-day period will also begin the process of healing your gut and digestive system, which needs to recover from years of damage from the Standard American Diet.

GG: (Moaning) Graiiiins! BRAIIINS!

JG: Didn’t you cut him in half with a chain saw a few chapters ago?

JS: Those zombies are pretty tough. Here, try this twelve-gauge.

JG: (cocking and locking) Hasta La Vista Grainiak!


JS: I’d say that did the trick.

JG: Ewwww! Zombie guts and partially digested grains everywhere.

JS: We’ll clean up later. Back to the plan.

JG: Right. If you live on your own, we recommend you go through your closets and refrigerator and kick all those non- paleo foods to the curb. This will eliminate temptation and make your thirty-day kickstart easier. Donate nonperishables to a charity organization. With the caveat that they shouldn’t eat any of it. Ever.

JS: If you have a spouse, partner and/or other family living with you, ask them if they will be willing to try the first thirty days along with you. If your significant others aren’t ready to give the paleo lifestyle a try and you have to go it on your own, sit down with them and let them know how important it is for you to get healthy. Tell them that you need their help and support. This might mean a significant amount of inconvenience for them as you will be eating separate meals at the very least, so be sensitive to their role in your journey. Hopefully, they will reconsider when they witness your transformation.

JG: Right you are. OK. After you’ve set the date to start your thirty days of strict paleo, put together a shopping list. As a reminder, here’s a helpful summary of Yes, No, and In Moderation foods:


·        Animal protein (preferably organic, grass-fed, and or pastured), including but not limited to: Beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, wild-caught fish, and shellfish. Fatty cuts are encouraged and preferred. Processed meats like sausage and bacon are excellent as well as long as they are chemical, sugar, and gluten-free. Organ meats are particularly nutrient-dense and easy on the budget.

·        Eggs (avoid soy/vegetarian fed, look for pastured, if not, then cage free and/or organic).

·        Green vegetables (organic).

·        Starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, squashes, parsnips, turnips, taro root, Brussels sprouts).

·        Mushrooms.

·        Fruit (particularly berries, cantaloupe, and other relatively low-fructose fruits).

·        Fermented products (sauerkraut, kombucha).

·        Spices and some condiments, including hot sauces, Worcestershire (check ingredients first), mustards, vinegars, and coconut aminos.

·        Guacamole (check to make sure ingredients are clean).

·        Organic extra virgin coconut oil (for cooking).

·        Ghee/clarified butter or regular butter (for cooking).

·        Extra virgin olive oil (for raw use only).

·        Avocado oil (for cooking).

·        Coconut water.

·        Paleo jerkies (we recommend Steve’s Original Paleo Products, Nick’s Sticks, and Epic Bars).

·        Quality canned seafood (we like Wild Planet products).

·        Sea salt (ideally Himalayan, but anything that that has no additives - add lots in the first few weeks to offset all the sodium you were getting from baked goods).


·        Grains and cereals of any kind, including wheat, barley, rye, rice, quinoa, or corn. White rice can be added later, if tolerated, for active people.

·        Pastas.

·        Legumes, including beans and peanuts.

·        Seed and vegetable oils, such as canola, grapeseed, corn, or flaxseed.

·        Soy, or any product that contains it.

·        White potatoes. They can be added later (without skins) if tolerated.

·        Dairy products, including cheese, milk or yogurt.

·        Sugar, or sugar equivalents and substitutes (saccharin, corn syrup, aspartame, Splenda, stevia, agave nectar). Honey, maple syrup, or molasses can be added back in, in moderation, later.

·        Processed foods that have chemical ingredients you don’t recognize.

·        Chips, crisps, candies, or “snack” foods.

·        Sodas of any kind.

·        Fruit juices

·        Beer, whiskeys, wine, or distilled spirits


·        Raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, macadamias, pecans, pistachios).

·        Nut butters (almond, cashew).

·        High fructose fruits (bananas, apples, pears).

·        Heavy cream.

·        Coffee.

·        85% cacao or higher dark chocolate (as few additives as possible).

·        High level predator fishes such as tuna and swordfish (due to contamination).

·        Nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants).

JG: If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease, we strongly recommend that you avoid nightshades, nuts, and fructose altogether. They can aggravate your symptoms.

JS: If you stick with the recommendations above, you’ll be on solid paleo ground. However, you might be one of those people like Jason that actually reads the directions when you assemble IKEA furniture and you need a bit more detailed guidance.

JG: You might be a creative, food-porn watching, cheffy type and feel very comfortable going into your kitchen with the list above, turning on the stove, brandishing some pricey cutlery, shouting “BAM!” a few times, and creating sumptuous paleo meals. On the other hand, you might be a bit more culinarily- challenged. You might want some recipes. You may even like the idea of a complete meal plan for your thirty-day kickoff and beyond.

JS: We’ve included a three month meal plan with loads of delicious paleo recipes from our dear friend Orleatha Smith in the Appendix. We encourage you to try them. Orleatha holds a master’s in education and is a holistic nutritionist and a wonderful chef who honed her culinary skills cooking for her family.

JG: Thanks Orleatha! (Joe and Jason do The Wave back and forth in their chairs four times)

JS: We also love Sara Fragoso, paleo chef extraordinaire. Her Everyday Paleo series of paleo-friendly cookbooks is a great resource. It’s well worth the price to pick up a couple of her books.

JG: If you’re going to put together meals on your own, be as creative as you like. Just remember that your plate should contain mostly animal protein, green leafy vegetables, and fats, with modest servings of approved starchy vegetables, and low-fructose fruits.

JS: Let’s talk about what your experience might be like when you actually start. It may well be that your thirty-day transition to the paleo lifestyle is easy from a dietary point of view, but if you’re like most people, including me, the first few days can be challenging.

JG: You struggled with the carb flu didn’t you, Joe?

JS: Yep. My body was addicted to grains and sugary carbs that it could easily convert to glucose. For those first few days my body was begging for sugar. I was foggy and less energetic than usual. It felt like someone had sucked my brains out my nose.

JG: Ewww. Like the way they made the mummies in Ancient Egypt.

JS: Exactly. I stuck with it though, making sure I ate plenty of good, quality paleo-friendly food, especially fats. Before I knew it the carb flu had passed and I felt amazing. My body was becoming fat-adapted I was and finally learning to access those fat stores for energy.

JG: This brings us to another important point. You have probably been told all your life that calorie restriction is the secret to weight loss and health. You’ve probably got your little food scale out, ready to weigh portions of food down to the quarter ounce.

JS: Put that sucker away. You won’t be needing it.

JG: Practicing calorie restriction may cause you to lose weight, but it will also create hormonal and metabolic problems that will make it very difficult to maintain the weight loss when you restore normal calorie intake. It will likely also result in the loss of critical muscle mass, effectively robbing you of an important fat-burning tool.

Most people who go on calorie-restricted diets gain back some or all of the lost weight later on due to these two factors.

If you try to calorie restrict, you’ll also probably feel like garbage, what with the low energy levels caused by your body’s hormonal reaction to the stress. That’s most un-paleo.

JS: So when you eat, don’t count calories or limit your portions. As long as you are eating in accordance with the template, eat when you are hungry and until you are no longer hungry. Don’t keep shoveling away because you like the taste.

JG: As time goes on you may find it beneficial to eat all your calories in one or two meals, during an eight hour window in the middle of the day. For many people, this is the optimum window from a fat-burning point of view. You’ll figure that out later. For now, don’t worry too much about it, as long as you aren’t waking up ravenous in the middle of the night. In fact, ditch the scale completely. It will only thwart your ability to find your Tao.

JS: If you are waking up to eat, that could be sign that you’re not eating enough or that you have a hormonal imbalance. If the former, you need to eat more good, quality paleo food at mealtimes. If the latter, you need to work on lowering stress, getting more sunlight during the day time, and cutting out blue light after sunset.

JG: We want to make sure you don’t limit portions or count calories, but it’s also critical that you don’t skimp on fat. Good- quality saturated fat is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy metabolism.

JS: It’s also a natural mood elevator. Enjoy the fatty cuts of meat, eat your bacon, cook in generous helpings of coconut oil and ghee, and spoon out generous sides of (clean) guacamole.

JG: It’s a myth that eating healthy saturated fats will make you fatter, or raise your cholesterol. Just the opposite, actually. It’s the intake of processed foods, excessive sugar, and grains that make you retain fat.

JS: We also don’t want you to eliminate carbohydrates. Remember, this isn’t Atkins.

JG: Nope, not at all. Although it’s true that if your goal is to burn a lot of fat, it makes sense to limit fruits and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, and squash to sensible amounts, you still need to eat them. If you are active it’s really important to eat even more carbs in order to restore glycogen levels, maintain hormonal balance, and prevent that nasty muscular catabolism.

JS: Very true.

CC: And THAT’S a’why you need to eat a BIG PLATE of my PASTA!!

JG: Did you untie her??

JS: Are you kidding me?? No way.

CC: I ate’a my way through the fettuccini, you gnocchi-hating knuckleheads! I’mma BACK, biyatches!

JS: Uh-oh!

JG: Better clench up Legolas.

JS: It’s Joe, and what’s with the grey robes, staff, and conical hat?

JG: (yelling) You cannot pasta!! I am a server of the secret steak, a wielder of the fork of Carnivore! You cannot pasta!! The egg noodles will not avail you! Flame of Udon! Go back to the shadows! YOU CANNOT PASTA!!

JS: Great. Not only is this going to go over about fifty percent of your heads, now we’re looking at a lawsuit from the Tolkien family AND Peter Jackson.

CC: AHHHHH! I’m mellllting! What a world, what a world, what a world…

JS: And now L. Frank Baum’s estate. Wow. Nothing left but a puddle of tomato sauce and a pile of semolina flour.

JG: Fly, you fools.

JS: Yeah, you’ve beat that one like a redheaded step-orc. Let’s talk about our experiments with low carbohydrates.

JG: Sure. Both of us experimented with low-carb eating for a while - trying to keep our carbs in the 30-50 gram per day range. In my case, it was a disaster. I leaned out briefly, but then immediately saw my cortisol levels spike upward. My levels of leptin - a hormone produced in the hypothalamus that regulates the sensation of fullness and helps metabolize fat, dropped severely. Within a few weeks I had replaced some of that belly fat I had worked so hard to eliminate, I was sleeping poorly, I had bad muscle cramps, and my energy level dropped like a stone.

JS: I tried the same thing, and basically drove myself into a state of hormonal imbalance and fatigue. I couldn’t exercise without getting exhausted. I couldn’t recover properly from workouts. My muscles felt like Play-Doh.

JG: Did you use them to mold cool and interesting shapes like dinosaurs, or space aliens?

JS: No, I did not. But I began to recover when I restored sensible amounts of carbohydrates from fruits and starchy vegetables to my diet.

JG: Me too. After a few weeks of normal carb intake I was back in business.

JS: I’m never going low-carb again.

JG: Me neither. I’d rather slow dance with a warthog.

JS: Warthog slow dancing is no one’s idea of The Tao of Paleo.

JG: True dat. That being said, as we mentioned in ,if you are diabetic, sedentary, or if you have significant amounts of excess body fat to burn, you may be one of the minority that benefit from a low-carb diet. We’d like to emphasize that in our experience, that’s the exception rather than the rule, and as you lean out, it makes less and less metabolic sense to maintain a low-carb regime.

JS: Let’s talk about the exercise template. By the time you’re a few weeks into your thirty day kickstart, you’re probably going to have energy to burn. We recommend that until you start to feel that energy, you restrict yourself to the long, slow, walks we talked about in Move to avoid stressing your body as it makes the transition to becoming fat-adapted.

Keep in mind that the walking is highly effective metabolically, you should plan on taking these types of walks over the long term, hopefully till you hit one hundred and ten. Walking should be thought of as an addition to your formal exercise plan.

JG: Walk at first. Once you feel energetic, however, there’s no reason why you can’t begin a program of paleo-centric exercise.

CC: Yes! It’s time to start Cardio! Give me a “C!” Give me an “A!” Give me a “RDIO!”

JG: It’s Claudio again. Yay.

JS: What’s a freaking RDIO? Hold on, I’ll fix this.

JG: Nice Joe! You pantsed him!!

CC: GAARGGGH! I am so embarrassed!

JS: I would be too if I were wearing a EuroDisney Mickey Mouse man thong.

JG: Look at him trying to run away with his pants around his ankles.

JS: Bye Claudio. Run along now.

JG: I think we’ve seen the last of him.

JS: As we were saying before we were so rudely interrupted, we’d suggest that you try a two to three-day per week program when you’re starting to feel frisky. One workout should be a series of short sprints followed by brief periods of recovery. If you’re not up to running, you can do these sprints on an ergometer - a rowing machine - or even on an elliptical runner or stair machine.

JG: The key is short duration and intervals of 80%+ effort and rest. Perhaps you can start with ten to twenty second sprints alternating with twenty-second walks. Try this for eight cycles and make sure you warm up and cool down. You can knock this workout out in ten minutes.

JS: If you can’t complete eight at first, that’s fine. As time goes on, you can lengthen the duration of the sprints and the number of cycles, but don’t go nuts. Short duration is key for fat burning and to ensure you don’t run out of glycogen.

JG: For your second workout, we’d recommend a session of lifting heavy weights, focusing on the big lifts like squats, cleans, deadlifts, and/or presses. Again we recommend that after your warmup, you exert at least 80% effort in each set. Because these full-body lifts are demanding and technique can break down quickly as you tire, it’s a good idea to go for low-repetition sets, either in a pyramid sequence (5 reps, 3 reps, 1 rep, 3 reps, then 5 reps again), or as you become more advanced, single lifts near maximum effort.

JS: As we mentioned before, the first step is to make sure your form is solid. If you aren’t familiar with these lifts and aren’t proficient in performing them safely, you need to invest in some time with a good trainer who can get you in the groove.

JG: If you aren’t comfortable with any trainers in your geographical area, we have a few suggestions. We’ve mentioned our friend Cinnamon Prime, who is based in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area. Cinnamon can help you with your exercise regimen regardless of your physical location. Darryl Edwards, whom we introduced you to in ,is a skilled paleo-centric trainer based in the UK but travels widely and trains clients all over the world. You could also consider taking advantage of Jason Seib and Sara Fragoso’s EPLifefit program. Their excellent professionals can train you online using innovative and effective technology. We’ve included the contact information for these terrific experts in our section.

JS: We talked earlier about the importance of mobility and joint flexibility. We’d like to recommend that you begin a flexibility program concurrent with your weight workouts. In Move we mentioned Dr. Kelly Starrett, author of Becoming a Supple Leopard. We encourage you to buy this book. At the very least, check out Dr. Starett’s website at for some simple mobility routines.

JG: The kind of joint flexibility and set of solid braced positions that you can acquire from a good mobility program are indispensable to exercising safely.

JS: To put it very simply, if you go hard without maintaining the necessary flexibility and good body position, you’re not going to get all the benefit from your workouts and you may get hurt.

JG: We don’t recommend getting hurt. If you are a masochist, you’re in the wrong book. Go in the back section and look for the spiked books with the leather hoods.

JS: There’s a back section??? Where???

JG: You’re not old enough to go in the back.

JS: Lame. Oh well.

JG: If you’re interested in some serious fat burning, you can add a short High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout once per week. Pick a set of exercises that preferably involve full-body movements. I like to use pushups, pull-ups, crunches, box jumps, short ergometer sprints, burpees, kettlebell swings, or similar options.

As an example of a HIIT session, you might pick six of these exercises. After a thorough warmup, proceed to do complete circuits of the movements you have chosen, with little or no rest in between, until time has expired. Finish with a thorough cool down.

JS: Although HIIT sessions are awesome fat burners, they are absolutely not recommended for people who are significantly overweight or at lower levels of fitness. Even advanced paleo HIIT ninjas like Jason never exceed twenty minutes in their HIIT sessions. We recommend that you start with a session of eight to ten minutes unless you are already very fit and used to this type of training.

JG: Right. In fact, as we mentioned before, if you have substantial amounts of fat to lose, if you have significant improvements to make in the area of flexibility, or you’re not used to exercise, it’s perfectly reasonable that you hold off on all of these types of sessions and limit your workouts to slow walking until you’ve gotten healthier. Perhaps then you might like to hire a trainer to slowly introduce you to the types of workouts we’ve described. Everyone has to find the Tao that suits them best. Even without strenuous exercise, this template should yield impressive results.

JS: Tying the workouts and nutrition together. If you ARE going to work out rigorously, especially if you are going to do HIIT, we can’t stress enough that you need to maintain an appropriate carb intake to fuel your activity. Try to eat some starchy carbs like sweet potatoes at each meal in order to replenish glycogen levels and prevent muscle catabolism and bonking - hitting a wall and running out of energy during exercise.

JG: Bonking is no fun. I’d rather snuggle with a Gila monster.

JS: Gila monster snuggling is not recommended.

JG: One more thing. Let’s say one day you had a poor night of sleep, or you’re under the weather. The traditional exercise ethos says that if you aren’t feeling tippy-top, you should suck it up and head to the gym anyway, you wimp, after all, do you want to miss a workout and spontaneously gain fifty pounds of ugly fat overnight and completely destroy your value as a human being, you filthy, disgusting…

JS: Jason…

JG: Sorry. I get carried away.

JS: You think???

JG: The point is, this thinking is completely flawed from a scientific point of view. If you’ve had a poor night of sleep or you’re not feeling well, your body is already under a higher than normal amount of unwanted stress.

JS: We’ve beat you over the head with the hormonal and metabolic outcomes of excessive stress. If you’ve missed it so far, here’s the Cliff ’s Note: Excessive stress is going to result in a whole bunch of non-fun, un-paleo effects on your body, mind, and spirit, which causes more stress and can spiral all the way to disease if it gets far enough.

JG: Yep. If you’re feeling less than good, don’t make a bad situation worse by stressing your body further with strenuous exercise. Take a walk instead and focus on eating well, relaxing, and getting a good night’s sleep.

JS: Tomorrow’s another day. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. The idea of this whole paleo path is to make your life better, healthier, and more satisfying. Beating yourself to a pulp in the gym when you’re sick and tired isn’t very paleo.

JG: I think we pretty much beat exercise and movement to a pulp. Shall we press on and talk about play?

JS: Whatever you say playa.

JG: Spend time prior to your paleo start date doing some serious reflection on how you want to play, because we’re going to ask that you add regular play sessions to your thirty- day kickoff.

Play is important in a biochemical sense because it alleviates stress, of course. But pulling back again and looking at the big picture, the goal is to lead a happier and more enjoyable life. What’s more wonderful than giving yourself a chance to play??

TT: Don’t listen to these fools!! You can’t waste your time playing!! You’ll miss out on everything important at WORK! WORK!! WORK!!!!

JS: All these people are going to show up again, aren’t they?

JG: It appears so.

JS: Shall we handle it as usual?

JG: Still got your fiddle?

JS: Right here next to my liter of duck fat.

JG: And a one, and a two, and a three: “Spin your partner round again, clap your hands and count to ten! Eat some chicken, roast some duck, now take your partner and go…”

JS: Woah!!! What about our G rating????

JG: I was going to say “go drive a truck.”

JS: Ah, I see.

JG: Looks like Terrence is square-dancing off over the horizon.

JS: Let’s hope we taught him something.

JG: Wouldn’t bet a fiddle of gold against your soul on it.

JS: Mega-unfunny.

JG: Back to play?

JS: Yes, please.

JG: It sounds lame, but what we’d like you to do is sit down and make a list of things you really enjoy doing. They can be mental or physical or a combination of both, and it’s okay if your line between exercise and play is a bit blurry.

JS: Just like Jason.

JG: If you can’t immediately identify things that make you happy, try to make it basic and simple. Maybe you enjoy taking your dog out for a stroll, or playing with your kids in the park, or sitting and listening to classical music.

Take the opportunity to list some things that you don’t do, but have always wanted to try. Maybe you’re interested in learning to sail, or play croquet, or do needlepoint, or play the xylophone. Make arrangements to try some of these things.

JS: We’d like you to set aside at least three hours per week for scheduled play during your thirty-day kickoff. If you’re able to do some spontaneous play on top of that, all the better. Maybe you end up running under the sprinkler with your kids or throwing a frisbee around with your roommates on the spur of the moment, or you indulge in an impromptu snowball fight. Look for these opportunities as they present themselves and take advantage of them!

JG: Make sure that however you choose to play, pick activities that take you away from the stress of everyday life and allow you a period of mental vacation. You’ll be amazed at how this helps both your progress toward your physical goals and your overall happiness.

We’d like to remind you again about our friend Darryl Edwards, trainer, nutritionist, and all-around awesome bloke from Merry Olde England. He’s an expert in the restorative power of play, and he is also the founder of a system called PRIMALity, which uses play to create healthier, fitter humans. Darryl travels all over the world doing seminars and presentations, and he might be able to help you to reconnect with your inner paleoplayful self. His contact information is in the section.

JS: Ok I think we pimped out Darryl enough.

JG: At least for a few more pages. We just dig his approach.

JS: And we’ve talked about setting the table for your thirty-day kickoff by getting your mind right and your pantry nice and paleo-ready. We’ve discussed what to eat and what to avoid. We’ve covered exercise. We’ve touched on the importance of play. There’s one more important thing we need to mention.

JG: The Lambada?

JS: No.

JG: It’s the Forbidden Dance, you know.

JS: Yes, I’m aware. But we’re going to talk about sleep.

JG: Oh. Not the Lambada.

JS: You’re going to read what we tell you next and you might say

“I was with you guys up to this point but you just lost me.”

JG: Yep. You’re gonna be all “THAT ain’t gonna happen.”

JS: What we are going to tell you is we’d like you to get at least eight hours of sleep per night in a pitch-dark room. Not just for your thirty-day kickoff, but for the rest of your life.

JG: Now there will be a brief intermission while we allow you to laugh until your ribs hurt and then wipe the tears from your eyes.

JS: Hmmmm, hmmmm, hmmmm, hmm-h-hmmm, hmm-h- hmmm…

JG: What are you humming?

JS: Intermission music.

JG: That’s the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars.

JS: I really like the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars.

JG: I think they’ve finished laughing and wiping their eyes now, so let’s continue. Listen: Joe and I get it. You have a stressful job. You need to unwind when you get home. There’s family to spend time with. There might be a second job or a ton of housework. You might think eight hours of sleep is just a pipe dream.

JS: It’s really important, though. Starting with the obvious: if you get sufficient sleep, you’re going to feel better, have more energy, and generally feel healthier and happier than if you don’t get sufficient sleep.

JG: Right…which is all very paleo.

WW: This is absolute malarky. I drink seven double cafe frappa- dappa-chino espressos after nine o’clock at night every night, slay zombies on my custom gaming console, check my email, work out, sleep two or three hours, wake up, walk around with a latte IV in my arm, and I feel amazing.

JS: Here we go again.

WW: Sleep is overrated. I’ll get plenty of sleep when I’m dead.

JG: Which is probably going to be very soon the way you’re going.

JS: Hey Wilma Wired, look what I’ve got for you! It’s a new cup of hybrid coffee, with seven times the normal amount of caffeine. I call it the Espressageddon.


JS: Here you go.

WW: Glugglugglugglug! WHOA I am SOOOOO tired ZZZZZZZZZZZ!

JG: Nicely done. What did you spike that with?

JS: My own special formula. She’ll be out for a while.

JG: Back to sleep, then. Or rather, let’s wake up to the importance of those eight hours from a metabolic point of view. The scientific evidence is mounting that eight hours or more of uninterrupted sleep has a massive impact on hormonal levels.

JS: As we discussed in Sleep you need to avoid electronics around bedtime to make sure you’re not getting too much blue light, and you need to stay away from alcohol, strenuous exercise, and large meals close to bedtime.

JG: Yep.

JS: We’ve knocked you over the head about cortisol enough times for you to understand that elevated cortisol levels can lead to your body hoarding fat and burning muscle instead.

JG: As an example, a 1997 study published in focusing on sleep and cortisol levels was pretty conclusive and typical in its findings. A test group of healthy young men was subjected to three separate sleep schedules - sleep deprivation, sleep interruption after four hours, and a normal eight hours of sleep. The sleep deprived group had cortisol levels 45% higher than the normal sleep group twenty-four hours after the period of deprivation, while the interrupted sleep group had levels 37% higher than the normal sleep group.

JS: Back to the two other hormones that are critical to the metabolic process: leptin and ghrelin. To dramatically oversimplify, leptin signals the body that it is satiated and doesn’t need any more to eat, while ghrelin stimulates the appetite, especially for sugary carbohydrates.

JG: Failing on those eight hours plays havoc with your leptin and ghrelin levels. It’s going to make it so much harder to eat what your body actually needs and make it far harder to make good food choices.

Again, the science is convincing. A 2004 Stanford University/ University of Wisconsin study which sampled over one thousand subjects found that there was a direct relationship between getting less than eight hours of sleep and having elevated ghrelin and low leptin levels. Participants who got five hours of sleep had leptin levels 15.5% lower than those who got eight hours, and the five hour sleepers had ghrelin levels 14.8% higher. More significantly, participants who reported averaging five hours of sleep had BMI (Body Mass Indexes) 3.6% higher than those who got eight hours of sleep (when adjusted for age, weight, and sex) showing a correlation between these altered hormone levels, lack of sleep, and weight gain.

JS: It’s about more than feeling better. We went all sciencey on you there for a while to show you that those eight hours of sleep are tremendously important in terms of succeeding with this template and finding your Tao.

JG: Using electronics shortly before bedtime can also interrupt restful sleep. So try to turn off the TV, the computer, and all your toys well before you hit the hay and get those eight hours of sleep. We think this is just as important as all the other parts of the template.

JS: Absolutely. Lack of adequate sleep could very well prevent you from reaching your goals and finding your Tao. Make it a priority. You will thank us later.

JG: We’ve just about covered it all, haven’t we?

JS: Let’s see, feelings, food, exercise, play and sleep. It sounds to me like we’ve touched all the bases. Except…

JG: I know exactly what you’re thinking. Don’t you dare.

JS: But you’re breaking her heart.

JG: DO NOT bring that psycho poobah back in here.

JS: You’re shaking her confidence daily.

JG: I mean it, Joe. No Cecilia. I’m as serious as a heart attack.

JS: Don’t worry. I sent her to Vanuatu on a singles cruise. No making love in the afternoon for you with Cecilia up in your bedroom.

JG: I am gonna hurl.

JS: We’ve gone over the ins and outs of supplementation, but it’s not a required part of the template. It may be a part of your individual Tao though, so we’ll leave the decision on supplements to you. However, Jason and I both agree that you should get out in the sunlight and make sure you don’t cheat your body of necessary vitamin D. If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm part of the world, strip down to a bathing suit…

JG: Or less, if you’re Joe.

JS: …and spend some time outside.

JG: I think now, we’re really, really done.

JS: Looks that way.

JG: How do we end this thing?

JS: I think, pretty much just like we started.

JG: Hey Joe! Look at that night sky. And check out that moon! Isn’t it gorgeous???

JS: Where?

JG: Over there dude! Look at where I’m pointing! See, with my finger!

JS: All I can see is your finger.

JG: Sigh.

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