Episode #90 – George Bryant: Chef, Marine And ‘The Civilized Caveman’

civilized Cave Man









George Bryant, the author of New York Times’ bestseller The Paleo Kitchen. The chef, healthy eating advocate and former Marine shares his personal health story with us. We discuss how he got on the road to recovery and wellness, and take a look at the changes you could apply to your own diet and lifestyle.

Could ‘freeform Paleo’ be the answer you’re looking for? A strict diet is great if you’re taking in the right nutrients, but what works for someone might not be right for another. If you feel your body is missing out because of a restrictive diet, introduce things back in that suit you and your needs. Be prepared to try things out, and don’t be disheartened if something doesn’t work out. Keep trying and strive for your goals.

We discuss The Paleo Kitchen and how it could help you with your own health problems. Follow the meal plans suggested or create your own: use the information available and change your own eating habits for the better. Healthy eating is something to be excited about, and if you’re doing what works for you and enjoying it, you’re much more likely to succeed.


You can discover The Paleo Kitchen for yourself here

Find George Bryant on Instagram here

Read more from the Civilized Caveman here

Don’t forget to leave us a review in iTunes for your chance to win a FitBit, a copy of The Paleo Kitchen and more!

George’s Blog Post George’s Blog Post About Bulimia


Blog  The Civilized Cave Man


MELISSA: Welcome, George, thanks so much for taking time to be on the program today.

GEORGE: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.

MELISSA: George, a lot of people may know about you and know your story but some listeners may not be familiar with you and just think that you’re a paleo chef that I decided to have on today to talk about some things. But I first met you a few years ago in 2013 and that’s exactly what I thought was that you’re a chef, a friend of Abel James who’s going to show us some paleo recipes and stuff. And I got quite the surprise not only in your presentation but also in your story. So I wondered if you’d tell us a little bit about what your first career choice was and how you kind of went into, I guess, storming your first career [laughs] to convince the career people that you were indeed meant for them and they were going to let you in eventually?

GEORGE: Yeah, I know. I appreciate that question and thank you for coming all the way from San Francisco when I met you. God, it was like two years ago.

MELISSA: [Laughs] Two years ago.


MELISSA: But we’ve both changed a lot.

GEORGE: A little bit, yeah. You’ve lost 60 pounds. Congratulations, and that’s the epitome of success. So yeah, I get that that a lot and I love surprising people so what you’re alluding to and for every listener here is I was not a classically-trained chef. I’ve actually never even taken a class to become a chef. I was a United States Marine on active duty for 12 years. That was my first career that I stormed into that you’re referencing. So that actually started at a very young age. I know you’re going to link the show notes to a lot of my background. There’s a lot of good stuff there. So I’d give the elevator pitch because we don’t have 17 hours to talk about my life and I want to make sure people get some value out of this. I struggled a lot with weight and obesity as a child as well as my eating disorder. And I had a really dysfunctional childhood: social services, alcohol/drugs abuse, you name it. I was kind of there. And so at 15, it’s when I kind of emancipated myself.

I started living on my own, supporting myself. And I knew that I couldn’t stay in that situation. So being the stubborn—and I will call myself stubborn—child that I was and wanting to prove myself, I was like, “What is the toughest thing that I can do to get out of here?” And I was like, “I can join the Marine Corps.” That was my bright idea. So at 17 years old, I walked into a recruiter’s office. I’m like, “Hey, I want to join the Marine Corps.” They put me on a scale and they were like, “Great, you’re way too fat.” I’m like, “Oh. Well, okay.” I kind of knew that already. I was struggling from a very young age. I had a recruiter. He helped me lose the weight, not in a healthy manner. He did very wrestling-style. I was in sauna suits and running up and down stairs, and sweating, and dehydrated. But eventually, they got the weight off and I shipped to boot camp. And boot camp was a whole different experience and I ended up getting down to about 150 pounds. And I looked like Skeletor with the collapsed cheeks and everything when I graduated. But what I did do is I did keep my mind focused on my goals. I ended up graduating boot camp number 1 out of 1,200 recruits. At that time, I went to combat training, graduated number one; went to my job school, graduated number one; and was pretty much meritorious promoted to all the ranks in my career until I was medically discharged right after I saw you actually or right before I saw you, yeah.

MELISSA: Actually, right on when you were doing this live presentation. I think it was in one of the breaks that they told us that your sergeant had called and was going to tell you that were being medically discharged or had gone through, it had gone through.

GEORGE: Yeah, so pretty much it was right when I met you, to be honest—

MELISSA: It was an emotional moment, for sure.

GEORGE: Yeah, For sure. That was definitely an emotional moment. So you know, I took my life—you know, I talk about my story a lot and luckily, I love that you know my story. We’ve met before. And I talk about it a lot because I think there’s a lot of power in being vulnerable and being authentic and I know you can speak to this and especially with what you’re experiencing right now and the changes in your life. So I just love people to know kind of everything that you know, you may see a blog, you may see an Instagram, you may see a Facebook, and it may look really pretty.

I try to keep mine messy because I believe that beauty is in the messy details because that’s where growth happens. So I attack my Marine Corps career and about six months before I met you, they called me in a new office and they were like, “Hey, I just want you to know we’re going to process you for medical separation. We don’t think you’re fit for duty anymore. You’re non-deployable. You’re not a really good asset.” At that point, I was kind of lost. I’d spent 12 years of my life. My goal was to do 20 or 30 years in the Marine Corps. And that’s all I knew, no college, no nothing I left as a teenager. And just for a background, they were medically separating me for traumatic brain injury, exercising disc compartment syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder. So in that moment, I kind of had to figure out what was going to happen and I was really, really lost and scared. I cried.

I really had no idea what was going on. And I decided that I wasn’t going to let it get me down just like everything else in life and I’ve been doing this paleo thing for about a year, and I was like kind of posting it online for accountability. But it wasn’t really just a full-time thing. And I’m like, “You know what, I can do this. I can get out and I can do this for a living and I can teach people and inspire, and empower people to make a difference in their life, eating paleo, making recipes, cooking, working out, mindset, whatever it is, I’m just going to do it. And that was kind of the transition that happened, and then fast forward six months and a couple of projects and I had met you, and was on CreativeLive which was phenomenal. It was awesome to be a guest of Abel’s and be in that experience. And it’s probably the best thing that ever happened to me, to be honest with you. I mean, if I look at my life now, I could never picture in this moment putting a uniform on and going back to work because I’ve changed so much since then. I would never want to go back to Afghanistan again or small area near those places. So I feel like the universe aligned perfectly and it put me where I needed to be, where my passion was that I didn’t even know I have. And that’s kind of where my story all started from and got me into this. And of course, there’s been a lot more roadblocks than ups and downs and a long traveled mileage of this journey. But that is where I am in this moment.

MELISSA: Right. Now, a lot of those things you suffered while being in the Marines, George, how did you—I mean, we know about you had therapy, you’re in a wheelchair for a while, you’re still in while you’re in sort of rehabilitation, but how did you attack the PTSD and brain injury and all those things? Was there a special therapy for that or did you seek out help outside the Marines?

GEORGE: Yeah, that’s a great question. So the main elements that I speak about and that are written in my story are, believe me at number one, I was bulimic for 12 years, PTSD. And for those of you that are listening that don’t know about this because it’s still not very talked about, it’s post-traumatic stress disorder, and then traumatic brain injury is TBI. I had seven concussions in three years. And then exercising disc compartment syndrome which is what you mentioned, where I had five surgeries on my legs.

I spent 12 months in a wheelchair and 18 months of physical therapy. And that’s when I gained 100 pounds by the way. That was that story. I got up to 253 lbs. in my heaviest. So for the post-traumatic stress disorder, that is something that I get help with every single day currently and I probably will for a long time. And it looks in many different ways and forms. I have a service dog, my beautiful pit-bull, Laylani. She’s my PTSD service dog. And then I have my beautiful family and I have a lot of stuff that I have created in my life in triggers. I do a lot of EMDR which is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. And we literally create triggers on my body that if I’m having a panic attack, I can tap an area. Similar to tapping, there’s book on there—

MELISSA: Yeah, very interesting.

GEORGE: I can tap an area and it brings me back to the moment that we worked on. And I have triggers everywhere. If I spin my wedding ring, it’s for me to be present and grounded. If I tap my middle finger, it’s for me to know that I’m safe. Like I have these things that we’ve worked on and the biggest thing, I think the overarching thing that’s been my biggest savior in life has been the quality of the food and the lifestyle in which I lead.

MELISSA: Yes. So I think we’ve both experienced the power of the healing nutritious food but that’s a big one. Do you think that’s helped a lot too with the traumatic brain injuries, you know, there’s been so much in the last year or so written about fighters, the NFL people, and how serious those injuries can be if not properly treated. Obviously, you didn’t have any choice, you know, you’re sort of stuck. You couldn’t say, “Hey, I choose not to have this today so let’s just airlift me out of here.”

GEORGE: Totally.

MELISSA: But the nutrients and stuff, I know there’s been quite a lot, again, a lot of medical chitchat in the health blogs and so forth about how the nutrient-dense food and getting the right balance of foods can affect depression, can affect people that have had traumatic brain injuries. Do you feel that’s helped you also?

GEORGE: Yes. And I love that you bring that up. That brings me to a point that I like to make, I am not science-y. I like things barney-style, like I’m so a doer that I just want to feel it and know it. So for my personal experience, because it’s all I can speak about, and I send an e-mail out this about the other day, but at one point, currently, I had 37 active medications. And I’m actually going to comment today on my Facebook page. Someone calling me out asking me to prove it because they didn’t believe it. Well, until you deal with the Veteran’s Administration, you have no idea what’s possible. But I have 37 prescription medications at one point. And I mean, I was on everything from blood thinners to blood pressure medication to try to reduce migraines. I was getting botox injections in my head every three months.

MELISSA: Oh wow.

GEORGE: It was insane. It was insane. And the transition into the lifestyle which I lead which is 90% food-based and then sleep and exercise kind of mixed in there as well, I was able to stop 95% of my medication just because my symptoms were reduced. It was no longer waking up with night sweats and nightmares. I wasn’t getting blackout migraines anymore and things just seem to be going which I now know was the inflammation of my body going down and allowing my body to process and heal. And I feel like living this lifestyle, eating the foods of which I do, which for everyone noticing, I eat a, I’ll call it a “loose paleo diet,” where-

MELISSA: free-form.

GEORGE: Yeah, “free-form paleo.”

MELISSA: Your version of paleo.

GEORGE: Totally, yeah. Like I stick to the premise of it. I believe in it all the way, but I also make the choices like I eat white rice, I eat a ton of potatoes.

MELISSA: Me too, yeah.

GEORGE: I support my body and I make choices and I do the best that I can, and just like everybody should.

MELISSA: Yeah, I was just going to say, just I don’t want to interrupt you for just a second there is that one of the things I’ve talked about, you know, since sharing things that happened to me is that you have to tailor it to your situation, to what foods work best for you. And you’ll only learn that as you go along. You can try the whole panoply of paleo-ish or paleo-general, however we’ll call it, all-inclusive paleo. [Laughs] But you may find that you’re a little bit more on almost vegetarian-side or a little bit more in almost vegan-side or something. But everybody is different and you have to see how these foods work for you like I went at the beginning way too low carb for my own composition and I needed to bring in, just like you said, some white rice, and I need to bring in some sweet potatoes, and I need to bring in some different kinds of sugars and things, a lot of the paleo folks are big on maple syrup than some of these agave things. And those don’t work for me. [Laughs]

GEORGE: Yeah, totally.

MELISSA: But I can have them. You know, I never say never but you’ve got to kind of see what works for you and what works for the first like 50 pounds might not work for the next if you have more than that to lose. It might not work for the next load. You have [Laughs] you know, lose a load of pounds. You have to adjust and try out and see what’s working for you and you may have to bring in some different foods as your body adjusts. So people shouldn’t be afraid to try for a couple weeks this, try for a couple weeks that. But the general overall paleo idea, I think, the whole foods, the nutritious foods, really, it seem for me it helped me to be able to come off several medications as well. But it’s so stunning what you say has happened for you. It’s just amazing.

GEORGE: Totally.

MELISSA: So your inflammation is down to a perfect score now, I hope? [Laughs]

GEORGE: I’d say I feel perfect and I love that you said that too. I think that’s one of the most important things. Like I try believe in empowering people to be leaders. And by leaders, I mean question everything. There is nothing wrong with that. You can take something and make it fit you. Ask questions. Be knowledgeable. Be a lifetime student, like that’s how we learn. That’s how we grow. That’s how we push our paradigm to become amazing, influential human beings on this planet and it’s the same with food. Actually, to be honest with you, it’s funny, you had an experience in low carb that didn’t work. I’ve been doing really, really high carb. And today, I actually started a very low-carb ketogenic diet. And I’m experimenting for the next, like 21 days to see how I do being a very active crossfit athlete because my body doesn’t respond well to some carbohydrates which makes me feel like I’m fat-adapted and I need to eat a very ketogenic diet. So I told my fiancée, I’m like, “Babe, let’s go to the store. I’m going keto for like 21 days. Let’s see what happens.”

MELISSA: [Laughs] Yeah.

GEORGE: You know, like day three and day four, I might have brain fog, I might feel sluggish. I might have to work through some things but it’s all about what figuring out what works for me and I love that. You can probably hear the excitement in my voice on this one.

MELISSA: Yeah. Well, I think that’s the thing that people—we were talking a little bit before we started recording about how people can get sucked into the enthusiasm of the different movements, the vegan movements, the vegetarian, the paleo. And the paleo folks are so energetic and enthusiastic. But a lot of times, you can follow a regimented diet and it may work for you for the first part of your weight loss or the first part of your getting healthy, but again it may stop working and it’s because you need to adjust. Your body’s adapted. And mine got much healthier. You know, my inflammation—people are sick of me saying this, but I went from 16.9 which is off the scale to down to about 1.5 where I am now. And that was a huge shift in what was going on inside and all the things that were going wrong.

But then, as the body got healthier and healthier, it’s like, “Hey, we need some rice. We need some carbs, babe. Let’s start feeding the carbs.” And again, I have to experiment and try out and see how much is going to work and how much is going to make me feel better and so on and so forth. So I think as you go along, you have to adapt. Also, a tremendous amount, as you mentioned, depends on what you’re doing for exercise. If you’re doing just physical therapy, you and I, we share that. We’ve been through the physical therapy, me just a very light touch of physical therapy. But I spent almost all of 2013 and most of 2014 working out rehabbing all these injuries. And when you’re doing that and doing 10,000 steps and maybe some stretching, some foam rolling and a light workout. It’s going to be different than when you’re working out three days a week or doing crossfit or doing something much more stressful in that.

GEORGE: Totally. I totally, totally agree. And what I love that you said in there is you got to try things than being paleo. I like to go above that. Paleo is one-tenth of my healthy lifestyle. I don’t want people—like I used to be, “Oh my god. I’m paleo.” Now, I’m very, very direct when I say I eat paleo. I’m a human being and I’m just optimizing health and my life or wellbeing and happiness and we don’t know what to call it. I’m going to call it “Hugs and Bacon” because that’s my hash tag I use all the time.

MELISSA: [laughs] yes.

GEORGE: I’m hugs and bacon, like that’s the way to go.


GEORGE: You know what, and I love your point as well. It really does depend and it changes.

MELISSA: It changes.

GEORGE: We’re human beings. Our bodies evolve. They develop. They heal themselves. You become better at certain things and worse at other things. And it is true, you can’t learn anything by us telling you. As much as I love to sit here and believe that I learn things from listening to people and reading things, the truth is the only lessons I really learned are the ones that I try for myself and I either smack my face really hard and I don’t even do it again, or I succeed in it and it empowers me to keep going. And that’s the premise of all of this. It’s like being your doctor, like N1. We used to reference that all the time. Your body is your best doctor, whether you’re paleo, primal, vegan, vegetarian. You name it. Your body is your best response mechanism. Treat it right, see what works, see what doesn’t work and then keep going, just like you’ve done. You’ve tried it. You weren’t feeling good. You were sluggish. You’re like, “I need my rice, baby.” And rice with butter and salt is the winner all day, but then you started feeling better but your body was telling you that. My analogy, my favorite one, and I guess I can go on any subject all day, but this one…

MELISSA: [Laughs] Yes, you can.

GEORGE: This one in particular, I tell people this when I speak. When I’m doing cooking demos and stuff, I typically get a lot of the same questions. And they’re like, “But how do you know what works?” And I’m like, “Okay,” I mean, “How do you know your cars out of gas?” or “How do you know that your car didn’t like water in the gas tank?” I was like, “When you drive your vehicle, it tells you what it needs. If it’s out of gas, you give it gas. If you don’t put oil in the engine, it explodes.” And I’m like, “Your body is your vehicle. You literally spend 24 hours a day in it, but yet you refuse to listen to the triggers and signals it gives you to optimize it for optimum performance.” And I’m like, “Your body is way more expensive than a $30,000 car. Without it, that’s it. You can’t buy a new one.” And so, I tell people, “Listen to your body.” Like when you got to pee, you go pee.

When you got to poop, you go poop. If you’re tired, you go to sleep. So when you’re hungry, eat. And when you’re not, don’t. And when you’re thirsty, drink water. And when you’re tired, rest. Listen to the cues that you have. You don’t need a book. You don’t need me. You don’t need an inspiration. You don’t need a life coach. You don’t need a doctor. You just need to listen. Your body is telling you everything. Listen to yourself. Trust your gut and go with it. That’s my take on that.

MELISSA: Yeah, and I think one of the wisest things that I heard this year anyway—I’ve heard a lot of wise things over time, but something we were talking about before we got started as well was Dr. Jade Teta, depending on where you are in the world of pronouncing it, was saying once you have this formula down of knowing what your body needs and when, you’re good forever. [Laughs]

GEORGE: Totally.

MELISSA: You just change it up as meets the circumstances, as to what food’s available for you if you’re traveling as opposed to when you’re at home or if you’re eating out. And he was saying once you have this, your own personal formula, kind of your own code, you can adjust and adapt as needed. And then you’ll never need a book. You’ll never need a “diet.” You know what foods you need when. Your body will tell you. But I think people get so lost because of consuming processed food for so long and things the body getting just it’s on the inflammation track 24/7 trying to prevent you from getting sick and it’s being overwhelmed with too much bad stuff coming in and no nutrients, no vitamins, no minerals, that it’s like, “Help! The house is on fire! What are we going to do?”

GEORGE: Totally.

MELISSA: We’re sending out signals but no one’s responding. Help! [Laughs] But as you change, you’ll see that, as you said, things will help. And you’ll see the signs and signals that are telling you what you need to eat. And it’s an adaptive process. But I don’t want to get too foreign to this without talking about one of the big things you overcame, George, and I don’t know how you actually did this. You’ve overcome so much here. It’s overwhelming to me it boggles the mind. But you had an eating disorder which is not talked about very much and I want you to just touch on that a little bit and talk about it and talk about how you got the better of it.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. I appreciate you allowing me the space to do that. Like you said, I struggled—I even clapped my hands to give myself a go signal right now—

MELISSA: [Laughs] that’s it, yeah.

GEORGE: That’s self-motivation, if you ever needed it. Yeah, I struggled with bulimia for just over 12 years. And it’s a pretty intense eating disorder struggle. I mean, it’s real and it’s common. And it’s not talked about and especially in men or children or elderly people, but it’s prevalent and common everywhere. And there’s so many different forms of eating disorders out there from orthorexia to anorexia to bulimia to just body image issues, like all of it. And even to the point or like where we get into obsessive, and diet and all these other things. They’re everywhere. And I struggled for a long time and it started, the first time I ever purged was when I was 15 years old. And for people wondering, purging is throwing up, typically binge-eating and then throwing up. And I struggled my whole life up until about two years ago and that includes in my Marine Corps career. I was still a struggling bulimic in the middle of Afghanistan and it happened and no one ever knew. No one.

MELISSA: Oh my god. [Laughs]

GEORGE: I was the best at hiding it and I did that and I hid it by being the best. My theory was that if I was the best in everything, if I ran the fastest, if I look the strongest, if I did everything the best, that no one would ever suspect that underneath the water, I was like a duck and my feet were going a mile a minute with me fighting my inner demons and that’s where I lived for a long time. And to be completely honest with you, it was exhausting. Exhausting.


GEORGE: I’m going to tell you right now, the worst way to live is with any sort of secret or anything hidden. It kills you from the inside. It’s just not worth it. And we could do a six-hour show on this and I know I am not a doctor. I’m just someone that lived this and overcame it. So take this with a grain of salt. For me, I’m a very stubborn individual, and when I set my mind to something, I don’t stop until I get it. And I set my mind to overcoming bulimia. I did not go see a therapist. I did not set out for anything. I didn’t even read resources online. I was like I’m just going to do this and my way of doing it was getting real. And by getting real, I mean, getting authentic and getting vulnerable, and it started with Abel, of all people, at a bar in Boston at 2 a.m. after the instructional health symposium. And that was the first time I ever talked about it and I literally looked him square in the face and say, “Hey, I’m bulimic.” And I started crying and we hugged and it was this beautiful moment and we’re best friends now and it was great.

And that moment is what started this whole kind of revolution and change. And what it was for me was speaking it into existence, what I find. I do a lot of mindset stuff and personal development. Speaking it into existence takes the stories we make up about it,  whether it’s going to be judgment or shame or sorrow or sadness, and it puts it out into the world for us to experience whatever is going to happen. And someone who’s struggling with an eating disorder, my stories were I already didn’t like myself. I had the lowest self-esteem. I didn’t think I was good enough. So I’m like if I tell anybody, they’re not going to like me. They’re not going to talk to me. I’m right. I’m going to continue to be right and that day that I made that decision to share it, the exact opposite happened. Abel loved me more. It was a safe space. He was supportive. He was encouraging and the stories in my head got to be wrong. And what I realized is that once I gave myself the evidence that the stories in my head, the ones that we all have with our self-limiting beliefs, that they can be different than what our brain thinks they are. I was empowered to make a difference. And to this day, I still use it. To be completely honest, I used it in writing my book.


GEORGE: To think about three years ago, I never cooked in my entire life and fast forward to then being a 22-week New York Time Bestseller of a cookbook. You would think I was insane which…

MELISSA: And I just want to interrupt you there for a second because I want to let people know who aren’t familiar with the book publishing world that the hardest category of all books is a cookbook to be in New York Times Bestseller, to be a bestseller of any kind. It’s the most competitive, the whole cooking channel has all the people they prop up and promote and have billions of dollars to spend promoting their books and you just waltzed right up there. [Laughs]

GEORGE: [laughs] Yup, number four. And we hit number four on the Advice How-To column in the New York Times which is the hardest one to hit. It wasn’t in the cookbook one, it was in the Advice and How-To, and I’m like, boom! Food Network. What do you feel about that one? Eat bacon.

MELISSA: Yeah. And I want to mention too that you guys, you did not have a massive $20 million publicity machine behind you.

GEORGE: No. we didn’t spend a dollar.

MELISSA: [laughs]

GEORGE: Not one dollar. I spent about a year planning it and lots and lots of hustle, like lots of phone calls and conversations and work. But organically, it happened and it was worth every single second. And it’s amazing and there’s so many people in this niche that I just love and admire, like Danielle from Against all Grain and everybody else who just organically done it and it kicks butt and I love it. And I just think it’s great that people get to experience all these different lifestyles and the resources that we created and used them. And I used mine and created mine to share my story on how I overcame a lot of this stuff. And there’s more in the works and there’s going to be more coming. And I think it’s awesome. I just think it’s awesome because it got to reach more hands and more people. Like that’s what I love. It’s got to reach hands of people that may have never heard of paleo or may have never known that men struggle with eating disorders or that there was a resource for them or someone that they could listen to, or whatever the case is.

I have back-ended a bulimia piece. And so, I always say this, my number one tip for people that are struggling, whether anybody knows about it or not, or you kind of are in like this stuck position, is to just get real. And by “get real,” I mean, get vulnerable and get authentic. Like own what’s going on. And I do this a lot and like I said, there’s a post in my website “26 Things You Didn’t Know About Me.” I actually just posted on Instagram again and Facebook. But how I do this is I love who I am, I own who I am. I own the choices that I’ve made in my life. And I just want to be clear.

This is for anyone whose like, “Oh, these things define me,” we, as human beings, are not our behaviors. We chose to partake in or do or have certain behaviors but they don’t define your worth or value as a human being. You as a human being are whole, perfect and complete as you are. Eliminate everything else in the world, delete everybody else on the planet, delete Facebook, social media, and you’re standing on a lone earth alone, just you and the world and whatever elements are here. You are perfectly whole and complete to function and to live your life. And there’s nothing wrong with you. We create this pressure on ourselves that doesn’t need to exist. You can make choices in life all day. You can make bad choices. You can make good choices but they don’t define who you are. What defines who you are is what you choose to do in the next moment, so I say that because I sit here and say things like, “Hey, I  was bulimic for 12 years. I was sexually-abused twice. My parents are drug addicts. I’ve seen three people commit suicide in front of me that were struggling with PTSD.” Things that I’ve experienced in my life are insane but they don’t define who I am. With that information, I can choose to make a different decision, act in a different manner, have a more supportive behavior and that’s where I live. And so if you are struggling with an eating disorder or anything else, I just say, “Get real with it.” Like own it. If someone asks like, “Hey, do you struggle?” Yeah, I do. And you know what, I need a little bit of help. You want to help me? No, I’ll ask the next person. I’ll go to my family. I’ll ask them. It doesn’t matter. For every door that’s closed or every one that doesn’t open, there’s always going to be one that opens. I mean, I hear there’s motivational quotes all over the place but here’s the thing, if you fail, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re plan didn’t work. Just try a new plan and if you ever wonder how to try a new plan or find one or get creative, ask a friend or figure out one in your own because there’s unlimited plans.

The only difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is when someone unsuccessful fails, they quit. Successful people keep trying and trying and trying until they succeed, no matter how many times they’ve been told no. So write it on your mirror. Go to the marker and be like, “I’m amazing. I’m perfect. I’m perfect. I’m healthy. I’m whole and I’m complete.” And don’t stop looking at it, reading it, loving yourself until you have overcome and be in anything that you’re dealing with. Lack of self-esteem, losing weight, overcoming an eating disorder. I mean, you name it, you can do it. Put it out into the world and make it happen. I guess I make it sound easy but it’s not, or it can be.

MELISSA: It can be, I think, if you follow some of the things you’ve said here which are pretty simple, which are pretty small steps to take in the beginning and that’s what a lot of people, I know that I get e-mail from is there, where I was and nowhere near where you were, but where they were just afraid to ask their doctor, you know, why do I have to stay on these meds and why can’t I do something else, or they weren’t getting the right support. And I just need to take that one first small step to sort of tip over the edge and start to think that they’re in control of their health. Like I like to say, “Become the CEO of your own health.” You make the decisions. You put these other people around you as teammates, as your team members that are going to help you. But you have to make the decision to make the changes and then move ahead but you don’t have to be the all-knowing, all-encompassing.

You find people that can give you the information you need. But you have to take that step and so many people just waver on that ledge. They just fall back into the do-nothing posture and they just keep taking the meds, not to say that you don’t need your meds, but if you’re going to try to get healthier and stuff and you’re looking at the results of your blood work which I always say to do, and it’s not working out for you, then you have to step back and say, “Am I getting the best advice here. Am I getting the best recommendations?” Because there’s plenty of help nowadays online and around the Internet. It was not fake doctors, but real medical professionals that you can reach out to that can help you. And then, of course you need the right attitude so I’m going to have everybody, I’m putting you on an 800 number, George. [Laughs]

GEORGE: Oh, okay perfect. Everybody just call.

MELISSA: So everyone can just call you for a one-minute upbeat message every day. [Laughs]

GEORGE: You know what, I actually, I wanna say something to you. By the way, I love that CEO of your health and your life, that’s amazing. And you know what, you said it correct. Like play me strengths and I would outsource your weaknesses. Like be your CEO.

MELISSA: Yeah, exactly.

GEORGE: Support yourself and what you’re good at and ask for help in things that you’re not. And I just want to be—there’s two things I want to say. Of course, there’s always more I want to say.

MELISSA: Don’t limit yourself. [Laughs]

GEORGE: No, of course. I don’t ever limit myself. But the first one is as much as I may be upbeat and may be awesome and excited and all these things that I say, the struggle is still there. Here’s what’s crazy, like from a little bit of personal, people don’t change. Nothing changes about people. How you view the world in circumstances is what changed. No matter what happens, you will always be the same person. But you can choose with the knowledge and the power on how you react to different situations.

MELISSA: Oh, absolutely. I totally agree with you there.

GEORGE: But life in itself, you’re always going to be the same person. You and I could witness a car accident and we’ll both see it differently. You may get like super, super, like I’m going to go in. I’m going to help. I’m going to save this person’s life. Personally right, with triggers I have, I go into shock-and-fear that another one of my friends I died. Like that’s where I go.

MELISSA: Right. You might sit down on the sidewalk. I would run to the car.

GEORGE: Totally.

MELISSA: I mean, what are you doing?

GEORGE: Yeah, but the event itself, and this is what I love, the event itself is the event. It’s completely neutral.


GEORGE: How we see the event is kind of what shapes our life and it’s from the way we see the world, our so-called paradigm and everything there. So we’re never going to change. But we can always choose to react differently. And the thing is, your life is a continual learning lesson. You can get smacked down every single day and every day that you choose to get up and try something different, you’re winning. Like that’s winning to me. Winning to me is just never stopping. The only time you lose is when you stop. So that’s how I feel about that one. And I got so in depth about that one that I forgot my other one, that’s even better. But yeah, I just want people to know that I cry almost every day. I cried this morning when Lindsey was leaving the house to go get her final wedding dress fitting because we’ll get married in three weeks and there’s a lot of stuff behind that. We’ve had a rocky relationship. I made horrible choices in the beginning of our relationship and I get to spend the rest of my life making up for them. But you know what, it’s still a choice. And I can choose to be different and be better, and be the best version of myself every day. And I’m just real and vulnerable. And when the tears go away, they actually go away.

I don’t stuff them down. I don’t hide them and then have them explode later. I get to go through my experience. I get to learn and grow from it and I get to move on. And that’s where we get to be in this world. So get real, cry, be happy, get motivated, because you may call my 800 number sometime, and it will be nothing but a flowing river of tears. “Oh my god, my life is so hard. Blah, blah, blah.” And the logical part of my brain kicks in and really, you know better, don’t say your life is so hard or that’s what you’re going to create. Start saying things and setting your intentions for different results. And you know what, my life is easy. My life is beautiful. I have a perfect family. I have a successful business. I’m healthy. I get to walk. I focus on what works. I set my intention, and those are the results that the universe delivers. That’s all.

MELISSA: [laughs] that’s simple, one, two, three. Well, before—

GEORGE: One, two, three.

MELISSA: Well, before we run out of time, George, I do want to just give us an overview of the Paleo Kitchen, your New York Times Bestseller, and one of the things I like about it, but I want you to kind of give us the overview is you got a lot of tips for helping people get organized in their pantry for getting their sort of “Mise en Place” in order. [Laughs] Or getting their “ass” together, let’s put it that way—

GEORGE: Yeah, that’s good. We’ll keep it PG.

MELISSA: —so they could be ready to cook. But just give us an overview of the book because I know we’re going to be giving away, right after this podcast, we’re going to be giving away a couple of copies of it for people.

GEORGE: Yeah, awesome. And then for everyone that wants to know what “Mise en Place” mean—

MELISSA: Come in, Mario Batali.

GEORGE: It means “to put in its place,” like just to prep. And you know, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That’s basically the bottom line. And my favorite thing about the Paleo Kitchen and one of my goals with that book in anything I do is to bridge the gap to eliminate intimidation, to make it so everything is approachable. I want to set you and everybody else up to when. And I do that in the best way possible. So everything is simple. There’s nothing intimidating. There’s no crazy ingredients. There’s no four-hour recipes. This isn’t Iron Chef America, this is “I live my life. I work 9-to-5, have three kids and a husband that I need to feed” America. And I want people to be able to win and succeed. So we spend a lot of time in the front of that book giving every tip that I could get in my brain onto a piece of paper. I went through everything that I’ve ever used to succeed.

So use all of the recipes, use some of them. Just make sure that you have a plan. That’s where we win. That’s where we create the results that we want. Have a plan on how you’re going to cook for the week. Use the meal plans on my website or just make up your own or plan to cook one new recipe a week if you’re learning how to cook, or you know whatever the case is. But use it as a tool. Cookbooks are great, but a lot of people put them on their shelves and they just sit there. And there’s lot of valuable information there, and you don’t even need to use the recipes. You can look at it and be like, “Oh, you know what, that looks good but I don’t like that. I’m going to make something different.” Use it for inspiration. Use it for whatever you want. But that was my goal and will always be my goal is to provide the tools necessary to let people win on your journey, on your terms, in your world, so you can win at everything. So yes, there’s like—I think it’s like 88 pages, like the first part of the book is like 88 pages of everything you need to know. And there’s even tearouts in the back of the book. The last four pages are tearouts for you to hang on your fridge which is like a basic paleo template and where to get the best things and what produce is the best, what’s in season, when? It’s kind of all there and…

MELISSA: That’s a key one, “What’s in season? When?” because you do so much better when you’re in the store and have that list in front of you. I had another guest on a few weeks ago who was saying go to the farmer’s market just to bring yourself up to date on what’s available and fresh right now.

GEORGE: Totally.

MELISSA: And grab stuff, and I always encourage. I had one of the guys on that run the farmer’s market up in the LA area, they run like four, I think, up there. And they were just talking about how so many bargains you can get and you get stuff that’s picked today or yesterday morning. And when you get stuff from the supermarket, not all supermarkets but some, it’s been on the truck for weeks, and it’s not ripe and all that stuff.

GEORGE: Oh yeah. And here’s a crazy one. I wonder if you know this, I love to ask people, do you know, if you buy an apple in a grocery store what the average life of that apple is?

MELISSA: I have no idea. [Laughs] Probably centuries?

GEORGE: It’s typically around 18 months old.

MELISSA: Wow. That’s amazing.

GEORGE: Isn’t that insane?

MELISSA: Yeah, that’s just one more thing to not to go to the grocery store for.

GEORGE: We go to the farmer’s market every Wednesday and every Saturday. We have two of them and we have a family-owned local grocery store that is all organic in Temecula. And it’s pretty awesome because they literally bring everything in from local farms and it’s worth every penny. But yeah, I don’t want to eat an apple that’s covered in wax and preservatives that’s been sitting in a silo for 18 months and then driven 3,000 miles across the country so I can get it and pretend it’s in season.

MELISSA: Yeah, not only that but I found, and I’m sure you’ve probably found this too and I know a lot of people who have changed their way of eating have found it, is that once you get to eating super clean and you do ingest something like that, you’re immediately sick, at least, I am.


MELISSA: I immediately react to it in a bad way. I start to get stomach cramps or worse. And I’m like, “What the hell?” And it’s like, well, whatever you chose wasn’t the best and so your body is not used to that crap anymore, so there you go.

GEORGE: Totally, yeah. So eat as local and close to possible. And to be honest, another big thing we hear in paleo, and maybe we’ll wrap up some time this week, but another thing we hear in paleo a lot, speaking about the book is that it’s expensive. I hear it all the time and it can be expensive but it can also be affordable, and more affordable than a standard American diet as long as you use the tools that are provided. And there’s tons in the book, but the farmer’s market is like the number one because farmers aren’t regulated by big companies and sponsors and everything else. And people at the farmer’s market are just amazing.

They love what they do. They want to provide sustenance and they want to make sure that people have the best quality stuff there. Like I swear, every time I go to the farmer’s market, we’ll buy $10 worth of produce and then they throw in a couple free apples or they add a sweet potato, or they give us asparagus or whatever the case is. But these people just want you to have the things that you need, and when you get it fresh and local, you end up saving a lot of money. And I think that that’s the biggest, biggest thing. Just educate yourself. I think there’s a website, www.eatwild.com, I think it looks like every farmer’s market that’s registered in the country.


GEORGE: It’s everywhere and farmers are so educated. Like if you see something, like I do this by the way, and I cook every day. But I’ll go to the farmer’s market and I’ll see something, I’ll be like, “Okay, I’ve never made that. Educate me.” And then they just start dropping knowledge bombs and I’m like, “Oh, I would have never thought of that.” “Oh, that’s how you do that?” “Oh, now I know how to cook this.” And it’s just this like information overload and it’s great because I’ve learned how to cook things. I’ve learned how to incorporate different vegetables I’ve never already eaten in my life just from asking farmers that are there. So try that at a standard chain grocery store and they’re going to tell you to go get a packaged box off aisle 13, and add the vegetables to it. It just doesn’t work.

MELISSA: Right. Great information, George. George, it’s been so great catching up with you today and so many great, so much great inspiration that you give. Where can people find you? You’ve got an award-winning blog as well as your book, but give us a few links and we’ll put them in the show notes as to where people can find you online.

GEORGE: Yeah, totally. My favorite one and the easiest one is my website which is www.civilizedcaveman.com. And you can pretty much find me everywhere from there. It’s linked out everywhere. And then if you’re wondering about the book, The Paleo Kitchen, it’s carried at Barnes & Noble, Costco’s across the country, but also online at the www.paleokitchen.com. And my favorite place to hang out is Instagram. And of course, that’s Civilized Caveman as well. So everyone can come and say hi on Instagram, send me a picture of bacon, say hi, whatever you want to do. Come see my puppy, my family, all that fun stuff. That’s where I am.

MELISSA: Good, good. Great, George. I hope you’ll come back on the show some time down the road. Give us an update on whatever you’re working on then, that new book, your 800 number for inspiration [laughter] or whatever. It would be a great pleasure to have you back on.

GEORGE: I’d love to. Thank you so much for having me and I hope everyone has a wonderful day.


Speak Your Mind