Onward by Moving Forward

My last post being 10 days ago, this has got to be the longest stretch of “time off” since my first few years of blogging. I don’t think I’ve gone more than a few days without a post since going paleo-ish.

So what’s up? Well, a few things, roughly outlined as follows:

  1. I’m going through major changes in my professional life. After 20 years as an entrepreneur, building a successful company, etc., I decided some months ago to do something else…and because I care about our clients, was unwilling to attempt to “sell” them. So, we stopped taking new clients last October and I’m shutting things down deliberately via client attrition. As far as what’s next, I’m pursuing management / systems / change consulting gigs at the moment. Here’s my Linkedin profile for anyone interested in networking in that regard (still a work in progress).
  2. My far more flexible style of eating—moderate carb, fat, protein…basically—combined with simplicity, and perhaps aspects of #1, seems to have had a number of behavioral effects in me. I’m simply not as interested in “slaying the dragons” as I used to be, or in maintaining my exclusive role as “Angry Dick” in the Paleosphere…and I’m happy to relinquish that role to others—but they better do it right, or I’ll have to come back.
  3. I have increasing misgivings about the whole direction of the Paleosphere.

In terms of #3, where do I begin? First of all, I have to first point the finger at myself for encouraging things to go where I now feel uncomfortable with the whole deal. While I lashed out at dietitian morons, slammed know-nothing celebrities, bashed grant whores and made fun of various fringe and extreme groups like vegans, I never did it, in my mind, to move people in the direction of being a fringe, extremist, exclusive, whack job paleo cult—but simply to provide some laughs, entertainment…some form of identity and yea, even a bit of a sense of superiority.

But it seems to me that the whole thing has really gone tribal, with virtually all the trappings of tribalism, including which faction of the meta-tribe one belongs to, identified by which t-shirt and style of Vibrams they wear. As an aside, I designed an FTA t-shirt early on, and when I got mine, found myself unable to wear it in public. So I took it off the blog after a short while. I’m just not a team spirit kinda guy.

Anyway, I’ll have more to say on this later, of course, and I’m working on getting a guest post in here that speaks to these issues—but at this point don’t know if that will work out. [Update: we’re all set and the post will be up tomorrow.]

What I want to do going forward is to take a sensible, thoughtful, skeptical, and flexible approach to this whole thing. I’m not prepared to “slam paleo” or excise it from my writing vocabulary; but instead, continue to seek out synthesis among various approaches to a decent diet and exercise regimen. For instance, I’m not sure when it was that Anthony Colpo updated his The Fat Loss Bible, but I do believe it must have been pretty recently, because Chapters 11 and 12 read like one of the best short introductions to paleo eating I’ve ever seen. Combined with his “calories count” and quantitative approach to fat loss and lean sparing, that book is a real gem in my view. Most particularly, his emphasis on nutrient density are very much in line with my own, when I posted my nutritional density challenges for liver vs. fruit and liver or salmon vs. bread.

He’s not the only one, but those I find myself most in line with while not feeling a need to agree with everything, don’t really wear a paleo badge, nor extend the secret handshake. Paul Jaminet. Martin Berkhan. Stephan Guyenet. kurt harris. Melissa McEwan. Chris Masterjohn. Even Lyle McDonald. While none of these guys call themselves paleo, they all care about good nutrition, quality food, and a fat loss approach that doesn’t amount to the equivalent of: eat as much fat as you can and magic will happen…with the caveat that there’s no such thing as too much bacon; and oh, by the way, have you tried the “paleo” brownies, pancakes & cookies?

And here’s another thing. They all maintain modest looking blogs that are content rich and low on flashy design. I dunno, but some of the efforts at style over substance and monetization out there just leave me with a bad taste in my mouth.

But maybe it’s just me. And what say you?


  1. Jason Sandeman on March 28, 2012 at 14:56

    Richard – This post is why I like you. You’re honest, no bullshit.
    I am not paleo either, I’m not primal, low carb, whatever. I did get caught up in it, but I smartened up.
    I agree with a lot of the nutrition, but I hate dogma. It smells like religion to me – and that’s all about control. I hate control – but then again I also hate stupid.
    I’ve lost the whole mojo of posting myself. See, going in one direction (IE “paleo”) finds me painting myself into a corner. People then have an expectation on how you are supposed to be. It’s like being back in high school again, in a clique.
    I hated those fucking cliques. I was always my own person, fuck em if they don’t like me.
    If I want to eat/make no-knead bread – fuck it. I’m gonna. If someone wants to tell me with a cold hard straight face that I’m gonna die of insulin resistance or an overdose of medication for diabetes – fuck em. (Funny thing is it’s a lot of people who have no fucking idea about the disease spouting off that shit.)
    I’ve given up some diabetic forums for this same reason – pushing low carb down my throat. Like its the only method of managing MY disease. (Eerily similar to the ADA mindset…)

    What I like about you is you keep it real. If you eat fruit and do fine, then you say so. You aren’t trapped in a dogma.

    I hope to see more of what you are posting. FTA isn’t about “paleo” to me anyway. That’s too much dogma. Too religious.

    FTA is about being free from those shackles. Free from the bullshit. Keep it up, I know I’ll keep reading!

    • Craig on March 29, 2012 at 05:21

      How is Paleo dogmatic? Veganism is dogmatic. Paleo is self-regulating. If new science comes about, someone will blog about it and the word will spread. It’s only dogma when you deny that science. Haven’t you noticed how Paleo isn’t so much low carb anymore? There are high fruit eaters like Denise Minger there are high starch eaters as well. Paleo changes according to the science, religion doesn’t.

      • Joseph on March 29, 2012 at 07:51

        Religion actually does change over time. It just pretends not to (in the present), and occasionally it has to burn a few witches before coming to terms with the new face of eternity (ha!).

  2. Monica Hughes on March 28, 2012 at 13:35

    Absolutely. Your next step is to accept the idea that lots of fruit isn’t necessarily bad, either. :)

    The idealization in this community of women with fourteen-packs — not just as an exception but an *ideal* that everyone should aspire to — by a bunch of 20-something clueless idiots, also bugs me. It has nothing to do with fitness or health. Melissa has written some excellent stuff on this, and so have a few other “paleo” bloggers, so I’ll leave it at that.

    In some ways, the paleosphere is deeply out of touch with reality. For a long time now, I’ve been encouraging people looking for help to just eat simple, real food. I don’t mention any specific “diets.”

    • Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2012 at 13:41

      I should probably add Melissa to that list above, as well as Chris Masterjohn.

    • Alex on March 28, 2012 at 13:50

      I don’t think there’s anything paleo at all about the idealization of ripped, super low body fat. I was talking with a guy who does search and rescue, and he said that ripped athletic types fare the worst in those situations because they carry no caloric reserves. I can’t possibly believe that paleolithic man thought having no body fat stores was a good idea.

      • Monica Hughes on March 28, 2012 at 13:56

        Indeed, if you look at many hunter gatherers you cannot see really really well-defined abs. Even in the men.

      • John on March 28, 2012 at 15:18

        …except for the hunter-gatherer ones, not living on marginal nutrients.


        Oh, and someone I know personally said some shit about something. Q.E.D.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2012 at 16:11

        I think there’s a distinction to make between ‘yep, the guy has abs’ and ‘he’s ripped and shredded.’

      • John on March 28, 2012 at 16:29

        There is, but “well-defined” happens somewhere around 10% body fat, and gets insanely cut by around 6%. A 180 lb man at 10% has a store of 18 lbs of fat, which is 63,000 calories. That in addition to muscle tissue and you’re looking at well over a month’s supply of energy, and that’s assuming your dealing with someone stupid enough to not be able to secure a single bite of food in over a month. Even the 6% guy is looking at close to a month before shit gets real. That doesn’t sound like a selection pressure to me.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2012 at 16:41

        Totally agreed. I have made this point many times, ie, you have a few hours of glycogen under strenuous circumstances but potentially months with fat metabolism and gluconeaogenesis.

        But, does that go to how we ought to be operating in a quotidian way, or, does it evidence just how very deep our evolution is as to survival?

      • John on March 28, 2012 at 18:23

        If you can eliminate pot bellies as a survival factor (i.e. we don’t store fat so we can hibernate winters), then it makes reasonable sense to assume that body fat is most effective when it’s minimized to only whatever level is necessary to buffer nutrient delays, since the advantage of having less mass is a huge survival bonus. I think a month of buffer is well above that necessity, so any fat beyond that would increasingly handicap a natural (HG) human while conferring no additional advantage. Women have different fat storage patterns and carry fat that has reproductive and nursing value, so the survival factors are different. Evolutionary calculus is certainly a complex undertaking and fraught with potential error from starting off with mistaken axioms, but I’m pretty confident I’m in the ballpark on this one.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2012 at 18:27

        I would say that’s true except for extreme latitudes, north or south. You’re not seeing their abs in any case, owing to the fur they wrap themselves in. May be not the case for a couple of months of the year, but I’ll bet it still gets pretty cool at night.

      • John on March 28, 2012 at 18:53

        I theoretically have my fair share of “Ice Age” heritage, although European descended people of modern extraction probably have far less than they assume, and I can hardly retain any visible fat on a feast-famine (IF style) eating pattern, which I’ve done for years. I would think the feast-famine model would be even closer to reality in the extreme latitudes than in Africa.

      • Tim Gwaltney on March 31, 2012 at 08:44

        I know for myself, eating a paleo diet of all grass fed meat and tubers I have naturally become the leanest I’ve ever been (visual abs,somewhere below 10 %) and that’s practically with zero exercise. I think a lot of those modern hunter gatherers you see with pot bellies have access to imported sugars and white flour treats. Johns picture says it all.

      • dr. gabriella kadar on March 30, 2012 at 09:40

        The Venus figurines were paleolithic carvings. Sure not svelte. http://arthistoryresources.net/willendorf/willendorfdiscovery.html

        Figurines from the Danube Basin (albeit neolithic 4,000 b.c.e.) also show a huge preference for large bits. Now, not all female figurines are endowed with enormous breasts, but large hips and buttocks appears to be de rigeur.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2012 at 16:36

      Oh, and Monica, in terms of fruit, I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t eat much, usually, but ocassionsally gorges on it.

      Bing cherries in season are número uno on that list. Grapes probably a close second and they have these sort of mandarin oranges here called Cuties that come out over a few months once per year and I’ll eat 5 or 6 in a sitting.

      Oh, and I’ll eat a good half of a large watermelon a few times per year.

      Had a banana this morning, kinda choked it down. I dunno. I just can’t really go bananas on fruit.

      • Monica Hughes on March 28, 2012 at 20:03

        Yeah, not suggesting it’s necessary. And I have never heard you saying fruit will make you fat, though some paleo people claim this, or that it will give you diabetes. !? Silly. A lot of people can’t handle lots for digestive reasons, of course.

      • Galina L. on March 29, 2012 at 05:56

        Some people clearly overdo fruits. It share with sweets the quality to be eaten even if your stomach is full. My guess, if somebody is crazy about fruits, it is better to treat it as a desert.

      • C2U on March 29, 2012 at 12:12

        I know lots of people who “overdue” fruits and are crazy about them. Not a single one has an above average BMI or diabetes.

        Monica, a majority of the digestive problems are due to unripe fruits. Most humans couldn’t pick out ripe fruit if they had a gun to their head. There are many other individual factors of course, but this one’s a biggy.

      • Kevin on March 31, 2012 at 20:44

        It’s comments like these that make me say fuck it! I have to pay extra for grass fed meat, get trained on how to pick out fruit so I don’t eat something unripe etc. I’m leaning toward being miserable on weight watchers which will cause me to eat more processed food and be starving for a time but it seemed to work for me.

        Great blog Nicholas. Whatever you gravitate toward next will be great work I’m sure.

      • Kevin on March 31, 2012 at 22:14

        I didn’t finish my thought. I meant to end this by saying I want to try all the things that I made fun of (grass fed meat, good fruit). My point is I want to lose weight the best way I know. Then when I am at a good weight I am comfortable with use some of these paleo ideas. I didn’t mean to make fun of what C2U said. Sorry C2U! It’s good advice. My main problem is I am inconsistent–just like most other Americans.

      • Gene on March 30, 2012 at 03:40

        Well, Monica, some of those people are backing their arguments with serious amounts of science – and not the epidemiological kind – like Lustig, Mat Lalonde, etc. Fructose can be very problematic. Shall we just ignore the science?

      • Paleo Babe on April 2, 2012 at 09:05

        Paleo philosophers do not say that fruit will make you fat, or give you diabetes…
        Let me squelch this right here and now..
        What the point is, is that fruit and it’s natural sugars causes us to want to over-eat fruit.. Fruit can cause cravings because of the sugars..
        You get Diabetes from bad diet… Fruit isn’t bad diet, it’s a food group that causes cravings.. Cravings many of us try to avoid so that we can either maintain our weight, or continue reducing..

      • Alex on April 2, 2012 at 09:45

        I don’t doubt that it could cause some people cravings, but that is not a universal experience. I have no problem at all with the fruits I do eat (apples, citrus, stone fruits, cherries, and berries.) What disrupts my metabolism is starch. If I eat a large enough portion, it spikes and crashes my blood sugar, but even small amounts of starch, eaten on a regular basis, increase my appetite and drive me to overeat.

  3. Monica Hughes on March 28, 2012 at 13:41

    Your change in mood also quite possibly is a result of lowered cortisol and adrenaline from not forcing your body through gluconeogenesis all the time. Some of your more bombastic stuff seems similar in attitude to how I felt when was doing fairly severe caloric restriction out of pure stress years ago in grad school.

    • Gene on March 30, 2012 at 03:53

      Don’t mean to be a pain, Monica, but the assumption that we aren’t designed to be a little “bombastic” is unsupported. How do you know? The un-neutered males of just about every other species of primate I can think of certainly tend toward periodic bombasticity. There is nothing more invigorating and life affirming than the feeling a male on the far side of 35 gets when talking/staring down a male of 20 or so. If it’s true that scarcity provided a strong selection pressure on us, would it not make sense that those who were a bit more bombastic would’ve been first to eat and feed their families? Perhaps all the fruit and grain is making some folks unnecessarily weak and docile?

  4. Matthew Allen Miller on March 28, 2012 at 13:44

    Looking forward to some more *beyond diet* kind of stuff, as well.

  5. Jesrad on March 28, 2012 at 13:45

    Glad to see you posting again !

    “But it seems to me that the whole thing has really gone tribal, with virtually all the trappings of tribalism, including which faction of the meta-tribe one belongs to, identified by which t-shirt and style of Vibrams they wear.”

    This isn’t limited to just paleo, IMO it’s more of a “signs of times” thing. I see the same phenomenon happen everywhere, in every domain (sports, science, movie-going, anything goes). That’s, I think, a consequence of the Internet: lowering transaction costs tremendously, it lets the Wisdom of Crowds take full effect. People who depended on “the officially annointed experts” for directions now resort to more loosely-knit bands of informational gateways to take decisions for themselves, because those prove more adapted to their needs time and again. People “sync” together around shared memes and principles in smaller, more diverse groups, and thus society is getting more granular, fast. Nation-states will have to adapt somehow, eventually. But that may just be wild speculation :)

    • Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2012 at 14:02

      “People “sync” together around shared memes and principles in smaller, more diverse groups, and thus society is getting more granular, fast. Nation-states will have to adapt somehow, eventually. But that may just be wild speculation ”

      Interesting perspective. I suppose that in the long view of things it’s better to rally around small tribes than God & Country and all those symbols.

      • marie on March 28, 2012 at 17:00

        Yes, better for those doing the rallying. Now the question is how to manage so that God and Country don’t take over and also so that we don’t devolve into tribalism, a casual synonym for constant low-key warfare….the verbal version of which is happening right now in the nutrition sphere as you say. Write the book Richard! :-)

  6. Leslie on March 28, 2012 at 13:56

    Get this completely. Have been Paleo for just over a year and at first was astonished and outraged at the nutritional nonsense fed through mainstream media and advertising. Not to mention “nutritionists”. Over time, and particularly the past couple months, my way of eating has evolved (haha) to settle into a pattern of good whole real food. It’s no longer a big deal to me to eliminate foods that are a waste of calories and make me feel like crap, but it is to those around me who still feel I have an eating disorder. But WTF, that’s their choice and this is my choice, and while it makes me sad and a little exasperated to listen to health complaints when there’s such a simple solution, I no longer feel compelled to offer my .02 of advice. I’d still like to read your insights on the more ludicrous aspects of modern food politics :-)

  7. Alec on March 28, 2012 at 13:59

    It feels like there is the beginning divergence of the ancestral health movement and the optimal diet for health and longevity. As much as we began by couching the movement on diet, as influenced by an evolutionary biology template, it seems as though we are moving beyond that initial template. It will be really interesting to see what kind of results we get back from the metabolic ward studies that are just beginning.

    I hope that we continue to pursue the science in other areas, such as sleep, stress, and fitness, with the same laser like scrutiny that we have with nutrition. But I don’t feel like we should fear the fringe groups who attempt to co-op paleo/ancestral health; as they are a sign of gaining more mainstream attention, and the cream will eventually rise to the top.

    I’ve always enjoyed your acerbic writing style Richard. Coupled with an eye for connecting the dots and bringing folks into the fray, you are an important voice in the conversation.

  8. Skyler Tanner on March 28, 2012 at 14:03

    Good job, Richard. Glad to hear your output is reducing, if only to make my own (significantly reduced due to research responsibilities) blog output look like something approaching prolific. ;)

  9. Bill Strahan on March 28, 2012 at 14:09

    Life’s a process, so it’s natural that as you go through it your focus and behavior will change. Kudos for just recognizing and embracing what is.

    I still remember being a total dick to a “trainer” in a gym about a year after I started CrossFit. I was so clearly superior in my head that I let myself act superior in random situations. Looking back I see my behavior as ridiculous, but seemed reasonable at the time because so many people “didn’t get it.”

    I see mastery of diet and exercise as similar to mastery of any other thing in life. When I was learning how to program, I ate, slept, breathed programming. I got really good at it, then it just became integrated into who I was. The behavior surrounding the acquisition and subsequent mastery of a skill or set of tasks is quite different from the behavior that emerges when the skill has been integrated and you’ve moved on to acquiring other skills.

    It’s pretty natural to be bombastic during the acquisition. The constant us/them, wrong/right, good/bad helps to define the elements. Once defined clearly for yourself, the need to think along the concrete black and white lines drops away.

    I’m betting you feel pretty relaxed in the areas of food and exercise. And what better state to start on a new round of learning and acquisition? What was a drive in the area of food and exercise can now just be an interest. Of course you won’t quit learning, but it’s an interest, not a moral imperative. ;)

    Can’t wait to see where you go from here.

    • Bill on March 29, 2012 at 12:24

      Well put Bill, that process of inflated expectations and excitement followed by doubts, disillusionment and then finally a balanced acceptance or mastery is similar to the adoption of new technology. Check out Gartner’s excellent Hype Cycle that describes this process in a cool diagram:

      The tribal obsessives around Paleo may simply not want to leave their “Peak of Inflated Expectations”. Perhaps Richard has reached the “Slope of Enlightenment”?

  10. Linda Sand on March 28, 2012 at 14:12

    You’ve given me a bunch more resources to help in my own journey towards health. Thanks.

  11. Christo on March 28, 2012 at 14:22

    I said on here like 6 months ago that “Paleo” jumped the shark and I stand by that. It’s basically marketing hype built around an elimination diet. Once you figure out what not to eat the important step is to start adding food back in,thats where real health,vitality and well being are to be had.

  12. Brendan on March 28, 2012 at 14:39

    you’re absolutely right Richard. I too find myself more interested in the people you listed, who don’t consider themselves “paleo” necessarily, whatever that actually means, but are still in line with eating real food. that’s the reason why I never committed my blog to “paleo”… there’s so much more to diet and nutrition than paleo, even though its a significant piece, and a great starting point. “Ancestral diet” is a much better term in my opinion, although it’s not so catchy

  13. Rhys on March 28, 2012 at 14:45

    A little sad that things are changing, but I really hope you still post food porn!

  14. rob on March 28, 2012 at 14:48

    Interesting re the business, I’ve been doing the same thing as far as work goes for 26 years and self-employed for most of them, about a year ago I stopped taking on new clients. Part of it was being active and healthy again, part of it was family obligations taking a toll, but overall all it was a sense that something had to give, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be the parts of my life that I like the best.

    Most liberating thing I have ever done.

  15. Parko on March 28, 2012 at 14:57

    You seem to finally be at peace Richard. Your experiences seem to mirror mine (and many other’s) in the paleo journey, from the lunatic fringe (questioning benign foods such as olive oil) to just having fun with it and eating what you need for the day with some occasional treats thrown in (mmm ice cream). Your rants were fun while it lasted though.

  16. Chris Highcock on March 28, 2012 at 15:01

    Good post Richard

    I’ve got bored by much of the paleo stuff recently. I started bumping up carbs about a year ago – no gluten but more parsnips, spuds, bananas etc – and got leaner and felt better. I am coming back to the old bodybuilding diets now but that is another story.

    I had something on my blog a while ago that there were 3 ideas that seemed to be the sexiest at the moment:
    – mitochondria
    – microbiome
    – epigenetics
    I think more and more we need to focus on those…..and that involves a lot more than diet.

    • Rob on March 28, 2012 at 17:50

      +1 microbiome !

    • realLife on March 28, 2012 at 18:50

      how so… ?? physical activity you mean?
      positive/balanced outlook?
      finding ones balance point?
      …u fill em up

    • Casey on March 29, 2012 at 05:50

      Agree! Keeping our mitochondria happy may be the most important thing we can do.

  17. pbo on March 28, 2012 at 15:07

    Great post! I am definitely with you on the paleo movement. It’s one of the reasons I never liked to tag myself with the term. It’s easier from a communication point of view, and like you have mentioned in the past, whether we like it or not, humans will categorize themselves and others.

    Regardless, its much more human to grow, adapt, evolve, and stay agile as you continue to learn and process new things. The problem with paleo and even ancestral health as a name is that we are fixated on the past. It’s just the start or a basis of our knowledge, but we live in modern times, and must find our way in what we are given. I don’t care if caveman did or did not eat something. At the end of the day, is what I am eating right now good for me, and does it contribute to my overall health (body composition, mind, soul, energy, etc).

    Low vs high carb, fructose vs glucose, PUFA vs SFA, all seem so petty from this new perspective.

  18. ProudDaddy on March 28, 2012 at 15:14

    I am pleasantly surprised to discover that I can’t disagree with a single thing you said! Being an old dude, however, I might have cut the fancy websiters a little bit more slack, since they don’t have a Soc Sec check coming in every month. Looking forward to your next posts — plural!

  19. jim on March 28, 2012 at 15:27

    Great post Richard. Thanks.
    Rice and potatoes are back in.
    Any guesses on when someone in the paleosphere will give the go ahead for eating bread?
    My guess is November 2012.
    Any takers on an over/under?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2012 at 16:15

      I think that for me, bread and pasta will remain an indulgence. I know what it does to my intestines, no longer being ‘adapted’ on a daily basis.

      I had some smoked salmon ravioli in a cream sauce the other night, out to dinner with a longtime business colleague at a fancy Italian joint. I like the flexibility of being able to say what the hell, but not doing it all the time, and not having to visit the paleo confessional.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2012 at 16:16

        That said, going a good 18 hours or more of fast after such a meal sets things right back to natural order for me.

      • Bill Strahan on March 29, 2012 at 06:24

        Heh. When I eat anything that has wheat in it now, I DO visit the paleo confessional. I sit down on the porcelain paleo confessional altar for a couple of hours and confess and confess and confess…


      • rob on March 29, 2012 at 08:17

        I had a pizza for dinner Tuesday night, Wednesday morning I went for a run and had to duck into the woods halfway through it, was hoping nobody would mistake me for a bear and shoot me in the ass.

  20. Rafa Contreras on March 28, 2012 at 15:29

    Ride on! bring the bacon and lets accept that the paleo, as I understuded, is a journey of self improvement. Its not a destiny, there is no perfect meal, we didn’t get sick with one meal, and we wont get healthy and beautiful with one meal. Beauty comes from within, and by embraicing the paleo lifestyle, you need to better your self, both in and out. Live Happy and healthy, because if you work ery hard to get those 14 abs, but you still and ashole… then, I belive, you are not paleo at all. Like very much your comments and saludos from Mexico Ricardo!

  21. Herschel on March 28, 2012 at 15:32

    Hey man, just wanted to drop some encouragement. It was your reasonableness and experimental attitude that helped me embrace the whole paleo thing and now I find myself almost 60 lbs lighter with a way to go yet, but armed with the attitude that nothing is make or break, and that as my body changes and adapts, so must I(calories, starches, etc.)

    Anyway, thanks for the good work you’ve done and I’m sure will continue to do.

  22. jake on March 28, 2012 at 15:41

    i hear you man. after bonking on the ‘eat fatty meat and leafy greans only!’ school of paleo (i love you mark sisson, but damn if that wasn’t your school), and realizing that ‘hey, paul jaminet’s a really smart guy,’ i can’t even call myself paleo anymore with a straight face. i avoid plant food toxins. that’s about all i can say. i eliminate no macronutrient class and eat whole foods.

    • Kamal Patel on March 28, 2012 at 17:37

      …what about animal food toxins? Admittedly a different issue, but eating happy meat makes me feel (psychologically) better.

    • Craig on March 29, 2012 at 05:43

      So, you’re still Paleo but you call it something else. How many times has Richard said that Paleo is a framework? There aren’t macronutrient ratios ascribed to it. Common sense should tell you that people near the equator probably ate much more carby foods than people at higher latitudes.

      • jake on March 29, 2012 at 09:15

        craig, i just can’t pretend anymore that there’s anything paleolithic or neolithic about my diet. the terms of reference are no longer instructive, they just confuse the issue. there’s nothing specifically paleo about what i’m eating. it’s a hoax. i’m avoiding plant toxins. i eat tons of white rice, potatoes, aged cheese, cultured butter…

        kamal, i do eat almost exclusively grass-fed meat. at least that’s what i buy, but when i eat out, i have less control.

  23. Chris Tamme on March 29, 2012 at 06:10

    I think it is the drive for perfection that most people turn into obsession. You get so buried in the minutia that you can’t see the forest for the trees. I just saw this on Sunday when I joined a group for a training run that most people were going way too fast and then more then one person was complaining about bad hips, knees, and ankles. I wanted to say then why don’t you stop but I knew what kind of response that would have gotten.

    You dig such a deep hole when you invest yourself completely into something that it is often very difficult to get out. One of my good friends asked me how many miles I was putting in and I said including today 8 miles for the season (it was an 8 mile run). I ran it with no problem at an extremely easy effort. Everyone needs to look at improving health and fitness as an adaptive process that you are never wrong about but have to admit you are never completely right.

    I am glad to see Kurt posting up again. I stopped checking after the Tim the Enchanter post was up for so long. I really have missed his musings and will need to find some time to read his new posts. Thanks for pointing me back in his direction Richard.

  24. BabyGirl on March 28, 2012 at 17:10

    Dang, didn’t see that coming.

  25. Austin on March 28, 2012 at 17:37

    Thanks for everything Richard. Your blog has been a positive influence on me, and not just on dietary matters either.

  26. Aggie on March 28, 2012 at 17:48

    As long as you don’t stop blogging. I enjoy your blog and your book and after this post your blog title seems more “in tune” with how you are. Good luck with your new business venture also.

  27. David on March 28, 2012 at 18:33


    As a long time quiet subscriber, I support whatever direction you head. I lost 100 pounds eating real food, and never would have done that with you, Sisson, and various Paleo-Heads.

    But it all comes down to N=1. We have to experiment. We have to figure out what works for us. We have to tweak, test and adapt. We need to figure out a lifelong, sustainable way of eating and living that works for us. Dogma makes certain things sacrosanct and others verboten. We have to call bullshit on dogma, friend or foe. Kudos.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2012 at 20:30

      David, I perhaps love the lurkers who decloak every now and then with most amazing tales most of all.


  28. Paleo as band-aid / Richard Nikolei moving away from Paleo | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page on March 28, 2012 at 18:48

    […] hurt us in the long run. Then there was Richard Nikolei's post today that had similar-ish points: Onward by Moving Forward | Free The Animal The overall theme seems to be there. Eat nutritious food, avoid toxins. But the change makes me […]

  29. Kelly Mahoney on March 28, 2012 at 18:57

    What’s next man, voting? I appreciate your honesty and willingness to tear down and rebuild. Cool!

  30. Rob on March 28, 2012 at 19:01

    Richard, beacause of your last batch of posts, I’ve gotten over my carbophobia and have taken up eating potatoes (baked). I’ve lost a few pounds and I am sleeping great, without Benedryl, melotonin, or anything. My mood is better to, but I’m still a bastard at times.

  31. Ron on March 28, 2012 at 20:02

    Good stuff, Richard. The more I do this, the less I give a rat’s ass about what anybody else thinks. The dogmatism out there is getting nauseating. I’ll be experimenting the rest of my life, & will do whatever makes me feel the best. As long as that includes eating lots of grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, pastured butter & coconut oil, I’ll be a happy camper. As for analyzing the macros, those days are history. Feeling sated & not thinking about when my next meal will be is pretty damn liberating. There are plenty of great recipes out there to keep me out of the ruts.

  32. Sean on March 29, 2012 at 10:15

    Wait, are you moving to the Fortress of Solitude? Say ‘hi’ to Superman and Kurt Harris. Watch out for Superman, though, he’s a tricky bastard.

    • michael on March 29, 2012 at 13:28

      Sean, that was really funny. Where do you find that stuff?

      So Richard, I have been reading your blog since 2009 now. Seems like the blogs hit a high point around then. It was a really exciting time for me. I sort of wondered what would become of this Primal/Paleo tribe. Many blogs I used to read no longer exist (Pay Now, Live Later for example) or even Darwins Table. Does this mean you won’t be a part of the AHS or other activities?

      • Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2012 at 13:32

        Nope. I’ll never go away.

        You all need my guidance too much. :)

        I’m on the slate to speak at AHS. I’ll be there. I’m doing primarily the “anarchist” thing, as it’s even more evolutionary than diet. Atheism too if I have time. Also Paleo, at least in terms of organized, institutionalized religion. Then I’ll be off to present a longer version of the same thing at The 21 Convention.

      • Sean on March 31, 2012 at 02:57

        “Ba-da-ba-ba-da-bup, Superman!” Cracks me up every time.

        Michael, Robot Chicken is great if you have a really adolescent sense of humor, like me.

  33. C2U on March 28, 2012 at 21:53

    Been a long time coming.

    We shall call him “Happy Dick”

    • Kelly on March 29, 2012 at 09:23

      As long as we don’t have to call him “Raw Dick”

      • Tin Tin on March 30, 2012 at 22:50

        Let’s hope he keeps a bit of the old Nikoley “rage against the machine” going. If he goes too soft on us we’ll have to call him “Soft Dick”.

  34. MC on March 28, 2012 at 22:04

    Richard, do you still supplement iodine by any chance?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 28, 2012 at 22:30

      I still have my original bottle of Iordoral and every month or two, I’ll break a 13mg tablet on half and down it.

      I also do a bit or nori on things from time to time.

  35. james mooney on March 28, 2012 at 23:08

    Good luck Richard! It’s all about finding out what works for you, always has been. I am coming off roughly a year of not as strict with things as I used to be, and justified it a whole ton of ways. End result (for me personally) was the true knowledge that my body does not tolerate regular ingestion of carbs period. That however is just me. I know plenty of people who have gone ultra strict paleo and then dialed it back a bit and have been fine, if not great! I am not one of them however…. oh well. I do hope that you keep regular posts up though. I have been hitting this site up 2+ time per day, every day for some years now…

  36. Alex on March 28, 2012 at 23:56

    “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” – Eric Hoffer

    Someone quoted this on their blog recently. Can’t remember who. But is struck a chord with me.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2012 at 00:09

      Alex, I’m not a big fan of bromides, and that qualifies as a particularly unthinking one.

      • LeonRover on March 29, 2012 at 01:15

        Nah, it’s an iodide – still a halide.

  37. Marc on March 29, 2012 at 03:45

    I say BRAVO!!!!!

    All the bickering is just un-real.

    I’ve been living the following the following motto with my fiancee for the last year
    “would you rather be right? Or happy?”

    I choose happy eveytime :-)

    You’ve said it years ago, find what works for you and LIVE!

    And yes, when I travel to really good “foodie” destinations, I eat whatever i want. And like you, a fast always sets me right.

    Awesome Richard….keep moving…forward.


  38. Sue on March 29, 2012 at 03:50

    Well said Richard.

  39. SC on March 29, 2012 at 03:56

    I blame kevin geary

  40. Remnant on March 29, 2012 at 04:26

    A few posts back — the Synthesis: Low Carb and Food Reward post — when Kurt Harris jumped into the fray. (At the risk of putting words into his mouth,) He made the point that too many people are simply obsessed with food. And that many theories proferred up are simply excuses for gluttony. I think that this is one of the main problems with “paleo” and with what Richard is talking about here. It’s not paleo per se; its that Americans of many many different stripes (vegans, SAD dieters, paleos, whatever) are TOO obsessed with food.

    So I don’t really see the problem Richard identifies here as having to do with Paleo exclusively, but with the fact that Paleo will perforce pick up many of the problems and pathologies that are common in the population at large. And gluttony and instant gratification are a pathology at the top of the list in America.

    On a separate note, kudos to Richard for shifting gears and (voluntarily!) winding down a successful business to pursue new opportunities. Interesting that as personal debt and bankrupcty are on the rise, Richard is saying “bye”. You have alluded to over-regulation and government meddling as becoming overbearing. Would be interesting to hear more.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2012 at 04:31

      Remnant, yea, the regulaton is a major part of it and it was just relentless, in every area–first marketing, then services. More than that, I found that while I liked running and attending to a business, I simply grew weary of the kind of business, the kind of clientele.

      • Remnant on March 29, 2012 at 05:28

        Here’s wishing you success and fulfillment in whatever the next move will be. Cheers.

  41. VW on March 29, 2012 at 05:21

    This post is completely in line with how I have always thought of you. I have always imagined that a lot of your stuff was tongue-in-cheek (at least somewhat), dating back to when I first showed up and you tolerated my pro-vegan posts that were intended in a similar tongue-in-cheek way.

    Anyway, I appreciate your blog quite a bit. Thanks for your articles.

  42. mark on March 29, 2012 at 06:17

    Good post! I agree about “mans” relentless need for religious bull shit. Be it church, diet, or “insert here”. I would really like to know when in our long line of evolution did our brain start needing rediculous “mythology” and begin our obvious superiority complex. I don’t see another animal on earth destroying itself and everything around them do you?

    Bit of a tangent there.. Keep questioning everything – Looking forward to your next installment :)

  43. Pauline on March 29, 2012 at 07:00

    Hi Richard, all I can say is your voice was gone and there was this huge vacuum on your site. I felt you were on a retreat with yourself working things out, but we sure missed all the dialogue that happens when you write. You are a writer and educator and inspirer of all that is youthful, explorative, innovative and unconventional. Stay true to yourself. Your ability to communicate has so many others stopping by to add their voices, it is a rich source of information, entertainment and resources. Don’t give up on sharing this aspect yourself – you have talent and we hear it loud and clear.

  44. CL on March 29, 2012 at 07:17

    Glad you decided to open up to “good carbs” … I started adding back rice, potatoes and more fruits a few months back when I discovered Colpo. My weight has stayed the same but I’ve lost more body fat AND my lifts have pretty much uniformly increased by 15%.

  45. Mike W. on March 29, 2012 at 08:11


    As a relative newcomer to this scene, I was a little disappointed by the vitriol that some of the various established camps showed towards others on topics that clearly are simply matters of fact (and often are years of studies away from being remotely decided). I’ve appreciated your openness in calling this out. It helped a new guy who is skeptical of any group with the “WE ARE THE TRUE WAY” mentality. We’re all trying to find the happiest way to the end of this race, and I’ll continue count you as an important source in figuring this stuff out.

    -unrelated, but important to me, five weeks with no shampoo or soap in the shower, looking good and not a single complaint :)

  46. Joseph on March 29, 2012 at 08:20

    I agree with this post, and with the comment above that mentioned how we go through a process when we acquire new skills (moving from ignorance to cock-sureness to quiet mastery). As I look back over my own experience, the things that have done the most good for me were accidents: something happened to prime me for new information (I got injured, I changed jobs, I moved across the country), and I stumbled onto something that felt right (or “interesting”).

    Take my evolution as an exerciser, for example. I have never joined a Crossfit gym or participated in formal HIIT training, but playing in college gyms taught me that I like intervals. My only formal instruction in weightlifting was a college class eons ago, in which some kid barely older than I was showed us around the machines and told us to be sure not to spend all of our gym time on the same one. I stumbled on a book by Steve Ilg (while hunting for textbooks?) and tried his WFT program for a while (as long as it was fun). Then a friend took me to the Highland Games, and I encountered Dan John (whom I may have already run into online: I am not remembering things precisely). I learned that I could do intervals, and WFT stuff, and still get really strong. Then, one Christmas, my brother-in-law decided to give me some stuff by Pavel Tsatsouline, and I acquired a few kettlebells. I read the books and still work out with the things today, when I feel like it: they are fun, but I don’t compete (or talk trash when people tell me I’m doing it wrong–I should be curling in the squat rack, obviously). I’m just playing. Why get all up in arms about play? I play precisely because I am tired of caring, tired of watching every move I make with a fine-toothed comb, looking for “inefficiencies” that must be weeded out by strict adherence to iron protocol. If I had to workout for a living, it would be much less fun.

    If I made a map of my journey through diet, religion, and work, it would be very similar. I stumbled into this. I bumped into that. This made sense to me for a while. I tried that. What I have today is an uneven farrago of experience and more or less practical wisdom collected over three decades of living. (The less practical wisdom is eroded as I try it and find it wanting, but the nature of life is such that I am always replenishing my store of ignorance faster than I remove it: the most I can hope for is to become more skillful in managing it so that it does not destroy me before nature has her way with me.)

    Why get mad? If you are mad, you might as well have fun with it, taking it in a productive direction (for yourself and for others, too). But if you aren’t mad, then you have no reason to be. In the long run, I think most of those who live well shed the kind of gnawing anger that demands release and refuses to subside after it has been expressed. When people tell me something is one way, and I learn at potentially harmful cost to myself that it is not so, then I am angry (at least for a while). But eventually, I come to terms with reality (the way things really are), and I am no longer mad at the people who led me astray. I know too much to be in any more danger from them. They already did whatever damage they had to do. Moreover, I see that they are often just fools like me, unaware of their own incompetence and trying their very best (sometimes a little too hard) to make a positive difference in the world. Fighting them just causes them to dig in harder. Better to let them be while I move onto something more productive that poop-slinging (not that that doesn’t have its place: man is a social animal, after all).

    • Joseph on March 29, 2012 at 08:26

      Sifting through the stream of consciousness, I find one thing I didn’t really say all the way. When you have moved from ignorance to cock-sureness to quiet mastery a few times, you stop being so cock-sure every time you break the ice on a new project, and you realize how close ignorance and “mastery” (as I am calling it here) really are. You don’t despise newbies (or heretics who insist on “doing it wrong”). You watch them with interest in search of something you might have missed. The real master is always learning, even (or perhaps, especially) when he revisits something he has done a million times.

      • Ken P on March 29, 2012 at 09:54

        Good point.
        There is a point when you discover that being a “master” is being the ultimate newbie as you are open to multiple potentials, not head down pushing past all the indicators telling you to change direction.

  47. Tyler on March 29, 2012 at 08:59

    I think that these times of “tribalism” are when we need strong voices like yours the most, Richard.

    I’ve always viewed the whole Paleo thing as a continuously evolving philosophy, understanding that nutrition isn’t completely understood and that dogma is a terrible disease. I think that keeping that at the center of the whole Paleo concept is important, and although it requires more energy to keeps the kids on track, I think this advocacy for open-mindedness is vital.

    I know that if Dr. Kurt Harris and you weren’t online saying things like “that’s bullshit. rethink things,” it’d be a lot harder for me to sift through the general mentality of droning low-carbers claiming Paleo and cut to what is actually real.

    Beyond everything, I think that whatever Paleo becomes, it needs to stay real. I would hate to see you and Harris go the way of Matt Stone, abandoning approachability and being a sound resource for the intellectual equivalent of pulling your dick out at an ice-cream shop. Or not saying anything at all.

  48. Ken P on March 29, 2012 at 09:50

    Great post Richard,

    I was having a conversation with a gay friend recently. He was bemoaning how much shit he was getting from gay friends for not being “Gay” enough-going to the parades, Red Dress parties and the like and his attitude is that while he is gay, it is a part of the whole of his being not the totality of it.

    In this little sphere of Paleo Primal Ancestral, bla bla bla there have been a good number of genuine folks who decided on their own to adapt a different path health-wise found great results after tinkering around a bit and chose to share this stuff with the world, some for profit and others not so much. Some of the followers seem to have adopted the (goddamn stupid mindless drone) sports team mentality of “my guy\gal, plan, diet, workout, team is better that yours so you suck/are doing it wrong!” And some of the folks at the forefront have chosen to think themselves Great Minds, thankfully a small group, overall.

    As with any trend/new idea the camp followers will tend to be the loudest and most vociferous faction. They, for good or ill, have drunk the koolaid and have bought someone else’s ideas. There is a huge difference between running one’s own experiment and adapting aspects of others success to see if it computes in oneself, rejecting what doesn’t and keeping what does versus surrendering yourself and taking up another’s philosophy as your own. The weak, needy and wounded generally in the latter group. Having sold a portion of their identity for some mental “security” to cling to, they can be a vicious lot. Look at born again xtians an example.

    I quit reading Paleohacks after a week as it was full of people BEGGING to be told what to do and to have the simplest aspects of their world dictated to them, then bitching because it didn’t work for them.

    Having been severely obese in my teens, losing the weight in a really unhealthy manner then finding myself in a place where my health was questionable, I was unable to lose the last 30# of fat that was stubbornly remaining despite my best efforts, I looked around for new ideas. Having folks such as yourself, Mark, Kurt and a number of others to hack off of and share experiences with has provided a general direction for me to go that has shown results and has lead to comments such as “You’re 40!?!?! I thought you were in your early 30’s.”

    Should any of those who’s input/output I respect suddenly offer advice for folks to become more dogmatic, hardcore, etc I would do as I’ve done in the past, move on.

    I seek shared experiences to enrich my health, life and to just have some goddamn fun. Anyone who feels the need to shame, berate, diminish or exclude due to ‘faulty’ ideology can go get fucked.

    keep up the thought provoking work, Richard

    • Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2012 at 12:40


      It’s funny how outsiders to any particular group to which individuals identify with seem to regard them as all thnking alike, all brothers in arms. We had a significant number of gay and lesbian friends when we lived in urban lofts and while they were all politically left so far as I could tell, they were as different from each other in most ways as a cross section of the population. They also loved, hated, liked or disliked other gay/lesbian people on largely the same grounds anyone loves, hates, likes or dislikes.

      So, good points.

      • Ken P on March 29, 2012 at 16:24

        That is what has lead me to, for the most part, avoid labels and overt group associations. Think you know what I think? Not until you ask me expressly and listen.

        Keep it up

      • Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2012 at 16:29

        “Keep it up”

        I beg your pardon!

      • Ken P on March 29, 2012 at 17:41

        the glory of being you, that is


      • Richard Nikoley on March 29, 2012 at 18:39

        Oh, ok, both, then.

  49. Nigel Kinbrum on March 29, 2012 at 11:12

    How about doing a “Dear Dick,” advice service for worried people?
    You know a lot about a lot. There’s an awful lot of BS out there.

    That appears to be the direction in which I’m headed.

    P.S. My blog doesn’t appear to be in your blog list. Please?

  50. Pauline on March 30, 2012 at 01:24

    What I like about you Richard, is you are prepared to question everything and stay open to change. Isn’t this the way we all learn? That’s the main reason I love this blog. I have had many dynamic changes in my life, thinking, beliefs and behavour over the years – and all due to openness to change and being prepared to question what I was doing and why? Sometimes that meant leaving the safety of what I knew and being prepared to go forward into the unknown. It has always been scary, challenging and rewarding and I believe it is this openness that keeps us young and awake to life. I have learnt so much from your blog from nutrition, evolutionary principles, testing theories, experimenting with lifestyle and challenging one’s own convictions. All the other websites and video links that I have found here have introduced me to some interesting, funny and weird people on the webosphere. So whatever your direction, its been a helluva ride, and I have enjoyed it immensely. So, thank you.

  51. Not all “paleo” diets are the same. Also, the label kind of sucks. on March 31, 2012 at 09:15

    […] Instead, everyone seems content in their own paleo camps, at best calling the greater movement “ancestral” or “evolutionary”. At worst, there’s somewhat of a growing dischord between camps, as Richard Nikolay recently remarked: […]

  52. Johnny Lawrence on April 1, 2012 at 19:16

    “Onward by Moving Forward”. Man, that’s a great title. I think maybe another good title might have been “I sure was a know-it-all for a long time, obsessing about this paleo garbage, getting mad and belittling anyone who didn’t eat according to my standards, most likely because eating low carb for so long killed my metabolism and I was mad because I couldn’t get ripped like my heros Mark & Kurt, now my temps are in the low 96’s, and dang it Matt Stone was probably right the whole time since Jimmy Moore is on roids now to slow down his acquisition of some new poundage”. If you like this let me know before your next post and we can brainstorm over a good title. I’ve moved from Reseda, married my cousin and now live in the backwoods of AL. Look me up.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 2, 2012 at 07:09

      Sounds all nice & tidy, Johnny. Unfortunately, it’s all a lie.

      Here’s a mention back in 2008 (over 3 years ago) that Paleo isn’t LC:


      “I think there’s a huge conflation going on. Remember: it only takes one single observation that contradicts the hypothesis to send you back to the drawing board. I’m not going to take time at the moment to cite examples, but what we know is that we have observed healthful primitives (generally no cancer, heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, etc.) from both extremes. You have the Inuit at about 80-90% animal fat with all but about 1-2% of the balance protein, and you have — on the other extreme — the Kitavans and Kuna, upwards of 50-60% carbohydrate.”

      “What’s the difference? They don’t eat derivative, processed crap produced by large, state-protected corporations marketed via TEEVEE to your kids, subsidized through the euphemism of “taxation” (in the Animal world: theft; try it: you’ll see what I mean).”

      I’ve never been “mad and belittling [of] anyone who didn’t eat according to my standards.” I’ve belittled proponents of the FDA SAD and other forms of CW and veganism. Otherwise, have always been a “find out what works” kinda guy and anyone can check the post history and comments on that, even comments on this very post.

      Here’s a mention of eating potatoes and that LC isn’t necessary for everyone in 2010, about 2 years ago:


      “I really don’t get it. Now, if for some reason you must stay low-carb; say, for weight loss, diabetes or other health or well being reasons, then fine. But if not, what’s the deal? Potatoes are Real Food. Sure, the various white varieties are a neolithic introduction, but c’mon, so is virtually every fruit and vegetable we consume. Most in no way, shape, form, fiber content, nutrient makeup, or sugar content resemble pre-domesticated versions. So why pick on the white potato?”

      And I still think Stone’s bullshit about body temp is a load of woo crap. Moreover, my chief grip about Stone which I’ve made clear all along is his 180 degree mode of operation. His whole reason for being is to oppose everyone else 180 degrees and then justify it.

      And I’ll never be advocating eating burgers, pizza, sugar and whatever else he’s touting.

      I guess the only remaining question is, why do you lie like that?

  53. Exceptionally Brash on April 3, 2012 at 07:26

    well, thanks for asking. I think it is a step in the right direction.

  54. Tracy on April 9, 2012 at 06:41

    It feels really stupid to thank someone for helping me chill out and eat a fucking potato, but here I am to say thank you. Long story short, adding ‘safe’ (for me) starch back to my diet has helped, and you helped slap me upside the head and see that, while I detest dogma (dietary and otherwise), I was letting it get in the way of seeing what was going on with me health-wise, and doing what I needed to do to deal with it.

  55. Crazy Town « Primal Belly on April 13, 2012 at 17:37

    […] here, then go here(read the comments), after that go here and end up here (series of 5). and feel free […]

  56. […] Onward by Moving Forward […]

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