So we were somewhat your Standard American Brothers, eating your Standard American Diet, doing your Standard American Things: College, Crappy Jobs, etc. Then we realized that being Standard Americans wasn’t good enough. This, is how we changed our lives.
Erik (30yrs, Married, 2 kids)
I was 27, married, and had a new born son, which inspired me to improve my health. I thought that whole grains, and calorie counting was the way to do this. As the lbs began to drop off, I decided I needed some sort of motivator to keep it going, that’s when a buddy told me about, Adventure Racing. This sport is anything but standard. Combining anything and everything, there are only three things standard about an Adventure Race: Orienteering, Bike Travel, and Water Travel. Other than that, you could be using anything from roller skates to elephants to complete the course in the allotted time. The way I quickly describe it to people is that it is similar to a triathlon only more intense, and requires intelligence. So, I participated in a couple of races and I began to dial in my running, biking and weight loss. Only there was one issue, I always felt like crap. It seemed no matter how hard or lightly I trained, I just wasn’t feeling like I was in control of my body; always aching, and desperately seeking carbohydrates to fuel my urges.
Then one day in 2010 I stumbled upon “the caveman diet”. The thing that stuck out in my mind the most about the first couple articles I read was that humans are genetically predisposed to eating certain foods, just like any other animal on the planet. I mean after all, aren’t we all just animals anyway? This idea was fresh and new to me, but it made sense. After reading about the health gains from some of the “Paleo Diet” practitioners, I was in. I mean, what could it hurt? I already felt like ass.
After 30 days of no grains, no legumes, and no added sugars, I was hooked. All of a sudden, I wasn’t a slave to my own hunger. I no longer felt this overwhelming urge to consume massive amounts of carbohydrates just to keep my body moving. Most importantly, I felt in control. For the first time I felt as if my body was a tool, rather than a burden. No longer feeling swollen, I could dictate how my body moved: fluidly, fast, and accurately.
Anyway I digress. After countless more races, and experimenting with primally fuelling them, I finally got it figured out. During this time of my self discovery, my little brother decided to up and move to Finland. WTF. But it was for love, and I guess that’s ok. Not So Standard.
In 2011, I had a beautiful baby girl, and since I already had a boy, I felt complete. I had finally convinced my wife to start eating Paleo, and suddenly to my surprise, my little brother in Finland jumped on the Paleo bandwagon as well. Now, the challenge is raising two Paleo children in a Standard American World.
Trent (27 yrs, married, 1 kid on the way)
I’ve been overweight my whole life. Since I can remember, anyway. I used to be “The Sweatpants Kid” in Elementary... You know, the kid who wore matching teal-colored sweatpants and sweatshirt, the sweatshirt inevitably having an iron-on decal of a wolf howling at the moon, or dolphins jumping over a sunset. Yeah. I was that kid. While my brother may feel as though he was “standard” his whole life, I’ve felt anything but. I always made myself out to be an exception to the rule; I was the exception that proved that you didn’t have to do your homework to get good grades, I was the exception that proved you could be “cool” without being “popular”, I was the exception that proved that you could be healthy, while still being 60 lbs overweight. Blame it on my parents for showering me with “you’re special’s”. Blame it on ignorance. Blame it on laziness. Either way, I always thought that, for one reason or another, the rules didn’t apply to me. I’ve always toddled through with the belief that working hard(ish) and being a good person would get me through. And, for the most part, it had.
But then my life changed. I moved to Finland. I got married.
Moving to Finland was a big deal for me. I stopped working and enrolled in a Finnish University. I had to adjust to the erratic ebbs and flows of the Finnish sunrises and sunsets. I had to find myself again. And, unfortunately, I was lost. I found myself stuck in a lifestyle that had very little meaning. I felt useless. Hopeless. And constantly tired.
Somewhere in the midst of all of this, my brother started losing tons of weight. Tons. When I graduated college in 2006 we were the same size. Same weight (around 260). Same height (just shy of 6-foot). Then, suddenly, my brother was at my wedding as my best man and looked about as skinny as some Hipster’s jeans. Now, admittedly he looked TOO skinny. But he did look good. He had gotten his act together. The next time I saw him, Erik looked better. He was still slim, but he was healthy. He was beaming with pride and strength and energy. He had gone Paleo.
Once I heard about what the Paleo Lifestyle entailed, I was intrigued. Not intrigued enough to go for it right away, but intrigued nonetheless. I could see, first-hand, the transformation that my brother had gone through. While I wanted to achieve these same results, I didn’t want to do the required work. Again, thinking that I could be the exception to the rule. But, of course, that wasn’t so.
Finally, after a year of living in Finland, my life had started to come together. I dropped out of the program I was studying and enrolled in one that was more suited to me, I started my own business, I started performing Improv again, making better friends, and, most importantly, in May I found out that I was going to be a Father come Februrary. It might sound cliche, but nothing hits you quite like that moment. Suddenly my life went from empty and meaningless, to busy and engaging! My relationship with my wife was strengthening, I was happy to be working, happy to be learning something useful, and very happy about becoming a Dad. But all of this came at a terrible price - I was CONSTANTLY tired. I decided that there had to be something I could do about it. That’s when I started asking my brother more seriously about going Paleo.
I had lots of excuses not to do it. I hate working out. I love eating. And Finland is notorious for having bread, potatoes and/or pasta with every meal. But I decided to stop making excuses and go for it. Since going Paleo in October, I’ve lost 30lbs, gained muscle and feel a lot better. I’m not 100% accustomed to the lifestyle, though I do have the diet down pretty well. I know that I am doing the right thing for my body, for my life, and for my family.
For me, my journey is just beginning. I invite you to come along as I learn about the diet, the lifestyle, and struggle through my transformation.
Not only have we Paleonated our diets, we have been Paleonating our lives. We have both been striving to provide others with natural, and inspiring information. Erik has started an outdoor adventure club, Everyday Outdoor Recreation. Trent has been motivating businesses and people by providing improvisational theatre workshops with his company Trentasaurus.
We hope that by reading this blog, others will feel the way we feel about the world, its people, and its food. We’re the Paleo Bros., and we’re Human Beings Being Human.