I recently had a pretty good question come in from a reader on Facebook. Christopher asks “If you were putting together a list of the absolute essentials to get started what would be on it? Are there a few pieces of cookware and fitness equipment that are best to get started with? If you could only choose 3-5 items to get started living the Paleo lifestyle what would they be?”
The first thing that came to my mind was that you don’t need “stuff” or things to get started or be successful living a paleo lifestyle. Rather, you need knowledge and empowerment. In regards to budget, I think there are plenty of free resources on the web where you can get more paleo knowledge than you ever dreamed of for free. While I could list hundreds of good sites, my personal favorites are www.marksdailyapple.com , www.robbwolf.com , www.paleohacks.com, everydaypaleo and www.freetheanimal.com to name a few.
That said, If I were to recommend 3-5 tools to help you in your paleo journey, they would have to be as follows:
- The Primal Blueprint book, by Mark Sisson. Knowledge in a tangible form, for those times when you don’t have internet access. More importantly though, I have yet to come across a better compiled source of information all in one place. Sisson covers each topic of paleo living thoroughly, and in a super easy to understand format. This is a must. You can buy it from Mark’s site or in the Paleo Diet and Living Amazon Store.
- A paleo cookbook of some sort to help keep you on track and keep meals varied, yet tasty. Tons of options in this area, check out my dedicated page on cookbooks.
- For cooking, a good ‘ole fashioned iron skillet. Try to find one at a garage sale or thrift store as the more used they are, the better, as long as they were maintained. You can also find them new at Wal Mart, Tractor Supply, or your local grocery store to name a few.
- For fitness, a plan of action. You don’t have to be a gym rat, in fact, I don’t recommend this, but if the gym works well for you then stick to it. I recommend random caveman workouts (I’m working on some videos/ ebooks, do some searches if you aren’t sure), or accountability workouts like a local crossfit center or a home program like P90X or Insanity. Of course, I am an independent coach for the latter two (and all other Beachbody programs), but I have also used them with great success. Instead of following them verbatim with a prescribed workout each day for 30,60, or 90 days, I keep the workouts in my “arsenal” and do them as I feel necessary. After I while, you don’t even need the DVD’s or cue sheets, you just need to know the concepts and moves, at which point you can orchestrate your own workouts.
- If I were going to pick a 5th essential, it would be some kind of minimal footwear. Ideally, you could walk around barefoot everywhere, but modern society and nuisances don’t always allow for this. Vibram Fivefingers seem to be the official “shoe” for paleo followers. I like the concept, but they don’t fit the shape of my feet, plus they are expensive. My current favorite shoes are the Merrell Tough Gloves. They are a little pricey too, but very versatile. I can do everything from muddy trail runs to job interviews with them. Not only are they lightweight, flexible, and have no cushion, but they look nice enough to double as a casual shoe. For those on a budget, try huaraches from Invisible Shoes or Luna Sandals, both modeled from the homemade sandals of the Tarahumara Indians made famous in Born To Run. The Invisible shoes are cheap, basic, and get the job done. Luna sandals are for people who want a little more style, or maybe a bit more cushion (for really technical trail running, for instance). These are but a few options available. This niche has literally exploded overnight and there are now hundreds of minimal shoes available. You can view some more on the barefoot shoe page and another wonderful resource is this minimalist shoe matrix.
- Ok. I know the question was 3-5 items, but this one is related to #4. Depending on your resources, you might or might not need some equipment. I’ve got a backyard full of logs, stones, and other great stuff to use for my workouts. You might live in an apartment though, in which case I would recommend at a minimum, 2 pieces of equipment: a pull up bar, and a resistance band. That’s it. Don’t go buying freeweights, kettlebells, snake ropes, or any of the other cool things you see people using at crossfit gyms. With these two simple items, along with your body weight, you have everything you need to get in some killer workouts. Plus, you aren’t spending a lot of money or taking up a lot of space. You can find these things locally at some place like Wal Mart, Academy, Big 5 Sports, Sports Authority, etc. Online, you can buy them from my Beachbody Shop page under Equipment and Gear, or GoFit.net.
So, I would say these items would be a very good place to start for essentials, and with very little investment. Once you really get into being a paleo addict, you can start looking for what I would call accessories-not really essential to paleo success, but definitely helpful, fun, and convenient, but likely at the expense of greater cost-things like kettlebells, super fancy minimal shoes, really nice kitchenware, those alarm clocks that wake you up with a gradual increase in light, etc. etc. Personally, I don’t make enough money for extras like this, and find great satisfaction with doing more with less, but some people are gear junkies, and I get this too since I race mountain bikes still. Hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to chime in on what you would consider an essential that maybe I didn’t.