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How to Go on and Stay on the Paleo Diet: Prepare Your Mind

Going Paleo sounds easy right? In its most simple form, you just need to eat mostly meat and veggies, like our ancestors. Surely everyone can figure out how to nom some steak and salad for dinner, right? And for most of those people who have managed to go Paleo for a least a month, from weight loss to managing disease without drugs and a million other things, the benefits are huge. So of course everyone who goes Paleo STAYS Paleo right? And those who want to go Paleo, always do it successful, right? Hahahahahaha. Yeah no. It just isn’t as easy as it seems. Using my experience and knowledge as a health coach, I’ve created this series so that anyone can have a much greater chance at Paleo Dieting success.

Get Your Brain on Board

As anyone who’s ever attempted to diet has discovered, it takes lot more than switching up your grocery list to go on, and stick to a new diet. Even the Paleo Diet, which is chock full of health benefits, re-balances your hunger hormones, allows unlimited amounts of satiating fat and ample mounts of protein, and is the most nutrient dense diet on the planet, can be really tough to stick to. And the culprit making all this so much more tough? It’s your mind. If you want to successfully stick to the Paleo Diet, you must get your head in the game. I will show you exactly how to mentally supercharge your dieting efforts. It may seem like a lot of preparation just to start a diet, but if you take each of these steps, your chances of successfully embarking on the Paleo Diet long-term will skyrocket.

Realize That You’re Worth it.

One of the biggest hang-ups for people working on their health is the idea that they aren’t worth it or deserve it. This negative self-talk is the silliest. Everyone is worth the time and effort it takes to get their health back. And however superficial it seems to work towards your bikini body or washboard abs, being a healthier you makes for a better you, mentally, emotionally and physically. It will positively affect everyone and everything else in your life too — from performing better at your job, to being friendlier to your neighbors to being a better parent and spouse. Heck, your environmental impact will lessen as you’re able to lose weight, start walking instead of driving and start eating organic and pastured food that is significantly better for the environment. If you feel weird just doing it for yourself, then don’t do it for yourself. Do it for your loved ones, do it for your boss, do it for the whole bloody planet. When you win at health, everyone wins.

Forgive Yourself

How dare you not look exactly like a supermodel. How dare you be a flawed human who gives into temptation despite knowing better! I hope can appreciate my sarcasm here. The fact is even the most superhuman of us are full of guilt and shame when it comes to our health. Beyond the obvious fact that no one is perfect, those feeling are freaking pointless. Actually they’re worse than pointless, they are damaging. Beating yourself up or being hard on yourself will not ever make you a better person or a better Paleo Diet follower. And the worst thing is, those feelings of shame show up as baggage and cause you to sabotage your future attempts at improving your health. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: It’s not your fault. Your current health struggles are due to a million factors, from getting the wrong information for decades (I’m looking at you USDA) to your parents’ choices in feeding you when you were 6 months old, to the invisible chemical hiding in your food. And although it may be enjoyable to secretly curse your parents or the government for their damaging interference, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Just know, it’s not your fault. And forgive yourself. Say it out loud: I forgive myself. Keeping saying it until you mean it so you can get over it and get on with it!

Figure out all of ‘The Whys’

You’ve got the what figured out — you want to go on the Paleo Diet. But why? First figure out the more obvious, short-term reasons. Examples:

  • To lose 30 pounds
  • To fit into that size 6 dress
  • To get washboard abs
  • To get a hot new boyfriend
  • To manage an autoimmune condition
  • To manage or prevent diabetes
  • To fix my lab numbers and make my doctor happy
  • To have more energy
  • To be better at my job
  • To be better as a parent

You know what they are. And you need to acknowledge them and write them down.

Figure out your Long Term Goals and Core Values

Then you need to push beyond those. What are you really looking for? What are your true dreams? What’s the life you’ve always wanted to live? How do you really want to feel everyday? These ideals reveal your true personal values — the things in life most important to you. Creating a strong, positive connection between your values and the changes you’re making for your health is essential for long-term success. And it just makes everything so much more awesome. Instead of, “Oh man that pizza looks good but I’m not allowed to eat it because it’ll make me fat and a bad person,” it’s, “I choose to eat this great steak salad because it’s helping me make the life for myself that I’ve always dreamed of.” So sit down for a second, close your eyes, and imagine that ideal life. Then answer these questions: Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? How is your body feeling? What are you capable of in this ideal world that isn’t possible in your current life? Now use those answers to create your positive long-term “whys.”

Here are some examples:

  • Living a long, healthy life
  • Being able to chase after my great grandchildren.
  • Waking up everyday feeling energetic and joyful
  • Feeling like I did twenty years ago.
  • Being a great example to my children.
  • Optimizing my health so I can do the most good in the world.
  • Freedom from doctors, medical bills and worries.
  • The health and financial freedom to travel the world

Write down and keep these answers for later.

Limit those Self-Limiting Beliefs

Unless you’ve got a serious case of soap opera amnesia, your brain is full of all sorts of baggage when it comes to eating, dieting, body images, nutritional device, guilt, food associations and most of all — excuses. I like to refer to these excuses as ‘self-limiting beliefs.’ They are beliefs that are literally limiting yourself from achieving your ideal health. In other words, they suck. It’s time to remove them from your mind forever. Here’s how:

Sit down and write down every reason you can think of as to why you haven’t been able to go on or stick to the Paleo Diet. Don’t just write down one or two. Really think about everything that is stopping you from success. Examples:

  • I don’t have time.
  • It’s just too hard.
  • I have to cook for my family and they won’t do it with me.
  • I have too many other things to worry about right now.
  • I’m dealing with some super stressful emotional issue right now like a breakup,or death in the family.
  • It’s too expensive.
  • I can’t cook.
  • I tried before and it didn’t work.
  • I’m not disciplined enough.
  • My whole family is unhealthy and so am I, I’ve just got bad genes.
  • My friends/family aren’t supportive.
  • I don’t deserve to spend so much time on my health, I should put my focus on my kids, spouse, career, etc.
  • I’ll take care of my health later, when I’ve got (more time, less stress, more money etc.)

Figure out your biggest limiting beliefs. Then create self-affirming beliefs to reverse those self-limiting beliefs. All those beliefs may sound totally reasonable to you. But they are stopping you from your dreams! So who cares whether they are reasonable. They are sabotaging you! And no matter where you are in your life, your brain will always be able to come up with a long list of excuses. It’s time to kick those unhelpful bastards to the curb. And it’s not as hard as you think. All you gotta do is flip them on their heads.

Self-Limiting Belief: I have too many other things to worry about.

Self-Affirming Belief: My health is my top priority.

Self-limiting Belief: I don’t have the time or money to do this right now.

Self-Affirming Belief: Focusing on my health now saves me time and money in the long run.

You should also create general affirmations that will help you achieve your goal, like these ones suggested by my Primal Blueprint Health Coaching Course. Read them out loud, and choose the ones that ring true to you.

  • I’m enjoying my wellness efforts.
  • I feel better, and my body is responding to the positive changes I’m making
  • Every day in every way I am getting healthier and stronger.
  • All the cells in my body are returning to their perfect original blueprint.
  • I am energetic, vigorous, and full of health and vitality.
  • Every action I take moves me towards improved health.
  • I am a perfect example of fitness and health.
  • Every day I reward myself with improved health.

If you’re self-affirming quote challenged, look for inspiration on Pinterest.com and reddit.com/r/getmotivated. Read a bunch of them out loud and see which ones really ring true and push against your brain’s internal excuse machine.

Note: You may find yourself procrastinating and resisting doing this whole exercise. It’s because your brain doesn’t want to give up all those excuses, delusions and limiting beliefs it’s worked so hard to create and perpetuate. Lock yourself in a room and get this part done. Don’t skip it — it’s essential to your success. And the more painful it may feel in the beginning, the more effective it will be in the long run!

Repeat it until you believe it

Now that you’ve got your new affirmations, you need to get them into that diet sabotaging brain so you can replace those old, unhelpful beliefs. First, use a meme generator like this to create some nice meme style affirmations with pretty backgrounds. Then print them out and put them places you’ll see them — around the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, as a background image on your smart phone’s lock screen. Share them with your loved ones, post them on social media, put them on a bloody t-shirt! Do whatever you have to do to ensure you spend a few minutes every day looking at them, repeating them out loud, and reminding yourself of them whenever you’re struggling to stick to your Paleo Diet plan. You want to do like 3 maximum at a time. If you do too many, you’ll be less likely to repeat them everyday, and you may overwhelm your brain with too much information. For maximum brain reprogramming, you want these suckers to be short, simple, and strong. Once you feel you’ve been successfully rewired, you can come up with new ones to push you to the next stage of your journey.

Visualize It

They may seem cheesy or woo woo, but vision boards are another great way to reprogram our brains. You don’t have to be a Photoshop genius to make a vision board. You can use your own photos, do a Google Image Search, and steal ideas from Pinterest. Then print them out and post them all on a big bulletin board and put it somewhere you will see on a daily basis! I put mine on the back door of my walk in closet. You can also do the bathroom, kitchen or your bedroom wall. You can also use your computer desktop at work (as long as some of those images aren’t NSFW). Use your short terms and long term goals, and that scene you created in your head earlier when figuring out your ideal self as inspiration for your visuals.

  • Want washboard abs? Put a picture of amazing abs on the board.
  • Want to be one of those people who hikes or does yoga everyday? Put someone hiking or doing yoga on the board.
  • Want to run a 5k? Put someone running a 5k on the board.
  • Want to live to 105? Put a healthy looking 105 year old on the board!
  • Want to travel the world? Put your first 3 countries you want to go to first on the board.
  • Want to be the CEO of a fortune 500 company? Put a CEO on your board.

Make Sure You’re Sold on the Science

There are tons of reasons to do the Paleo Diet, scientifically speaking. If you’re all geared up to try a Whole 30, but in the back of your mind you’re scared to death of your cholesterol numbers, then you aren’t really sold yet. I highly recommend the Primal Blueprint Book as a great, easy to read starter on the science. The Marksdailyapple.com blog is amazing for searching for specific topics. I also have plenty of my own scientific explanations in this blog. There are tons of great resources based on studies and personal experiments by the many brilliant luminaries in the Paleo world. Read, listen and watch all the books, blogs, podcasts and YouTube videos you need to make sure you are 100% intellectually on board with the Paleo Diet.

Make a Contract with Yourself

Now that you’ve got your affirmation memes, vision board and are 100% intellectually on board, it’s time to sign your name at the dotted line. Make a contract with yourself to do your very best to achieve the healthy future you deserve. It should real like a personal mission statement. Keep it positive and strong and make sure you mean every word. And when you sign your name, do it with the positive determination that you really mean to stick to this journey to a better life. It should feel the same way as when you sign a contract for a new car or a house — this is for real and there is no getting out of it!


I Shelley Barker dedicate myself to working toward my own ideal health and body. I promise to work everyday towards a life full of more joy, energy, and freedom, to be proud of how I feel and look and to be a positive example to others in my life. I dedicate myself to living a healthier life so someday I can look back and be proud of who I was and what I accomplished. I will make and keep making positive changes because I am strong, valuable and deserving of my optimal healthy life, because I love myself and believe in myself. I will do my very best every day, and if and when I stumble, I will learn from my mistakes and come out stronger because of them. I will never give up, because I deserve better than that.


Shelley Barker

Hey You, You’re Awesome!

You made it through this whole post! Celebrate the time and energy you’ve spent toward achieving a better you and give yourself thanks. Now get started on your journey!

Make sure you check out the second and third articles in the series: How to Go on and Stay on the Paleo Diet: Prepare Your Plan, and Plan Your Accountability. And check out thepaleohealthcoach.com for a free downloadable to-do-list to help you achieve every to-do in all three articles step by step to ensure success for your ideal healthy self.

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