George Bryant Takes Us Into The Paleo Kitchen
Jonathan: Hey, everybody! Jonathan Bailor back with another Sane Show. I’m very happy to welcome back one of my favorite guests that we’ve had on, a really inspirational individual with an incredible story and actually the first time I’ve seen him. I’ve talked with him plenty of times but I’ve actually never seen the man before and I’ve got to say I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m just kidding.
His name is George Bryant. You know him from civilizedcavemencooking.com and you will certainly hear about his brand new book which is just going bananas. It’s called The Paleo Kitchen. George, welcome back to the show.
George: Thanks for having me, man. I actually forgot that we haven’t met before or seen each other’s faces.
Jonathan: Yes, yes. It’s pretty crazy. I recently was at Paleo Effects and it’s just amazing. You meet people that you’ve worked with for years and years and it’s like, “Oh, my gosh! I actually met you.” So we’re one step closer to actually meeting having seen each other, so.
George: And I was going to be there this year and I had some stuff come up and I was like you know what? And they created a second Paleo Effect; it’s perfect. We get to go later.
Jonathan: That’s awesome. And while I know you’ve been extremely busy with your upcoming book and I want to get to that but I didn’t hear your first recording on the show. I was hoping your story is a classic story of recovery, almost like a hero’s journey type story. So can you give us the abridged version? You’re famous for probably giving the longest story you’ve ever heard on the first show, so maybe the abridged version this time.
George: I’ve been practicing my elevator pitch for awhile now because I’m going to be on book tour, so I’ve got a really short version. To keep it short, I’m 30 years old now. I just got medically separated from the Marine Corps after 12 years of active duty in July. My story started around when I was 10 or 11. Really disheveled family, no good food values, a lot of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, verbal abuse, some physical abuse. Just really developed a pretty bad paradigm about myself and belief system.
Turned to food for comfort, started gaining weight. Got picked on as a kid. When I was 15 years old I became bulimic and that’s when that journey started and that continued for 12 years. When I was 17, I decided that it wasn’t healthy for me to stay in that environment anymore. I didn’t really have any role models. I didn’t want to end up like my parents, so I decided to join the Marine Corps because let’s do the hardest thing we can find just to get away as fast as possible.
So I left for the Marine Corps in 2002, in July to be exact. Throughout my career it was amazing. I deployed to Afghanistan. I went to Somalia, learned a lot, met a lot of people. In 2004, on my 21st birthday, I had both my legs become severely injured with exercise-induced compartment syndrome. That developed into having six surgeries, spending 12 months in a wheelchair, 18 months of physical therapy where I ballooned up to my heaviest of 257 pounds and also that was the deepest, darkest time of my eating disorder and also addiction to pain medication.
After those moments and that super-depth low, like just being as low as I felt I could possibly be, I had this awesome physical therapist who just didn’t accept no for an answer. She was five foot of power. Just wanted to kill me every day. Limiting beliefs were not allowed in her presence and that means that I got to be pushed and stretched out of my comfort zone every day and she really took a stand for me as a human being and it started this whole health journey.
I was still struggling with body image and the way that I looked. I was eating like a carb cycling diet doing triathlons in my physical therapy and I was what I like to call skinny-fat. Like with clothes on I looked great, but when I took my shirt off like I was flabby and I was inflamed and I was bloated. I had horrible allergies, migraines, everything that you can imagine.
I really just stuck to the journey. I overcame all the obstacles on my legs. They told me they were going to amputate them. I didn’t like that answer; instead I ran a marathon and then a half Iron Man. I was just out to be stubborn and prove the world wrong.
So I got back in, stayed in the Marine Corps. Had a couple concussions near the end of my career in deployment. When I was in Afghanistan the last time, I stumbled across Bob Wolf’s book (a good friend of all of ours) and I read it and I was like this makes sense to me. I tried every diet. I tried every lifestyle and I could never control my emotions or my food. So I started Paleo in Afghanistan right when I started Cross Fit.
I came home from Afghanistan. I felt better than I’d ever felt and I’m like I think this is it. I think this is a good start for me to overcome my eating disorder, to really regulate my health and really make a difference. In going Paleo I realized that I had food allergies which were affecting my migraines and my allergies and how I was feeling overall, my sleep, my mood.
I went Paleo for 30 days. I felt and looked better than I ever felt and, most of all, I was content with how I was. I wasn’t obsessing over food. I wasn’t controlling it. It wasn’t an out-of-control measure for me. So I decided to start a website and that was three, three and a half years ago. Since then I got medically separated from the Marine Corps, turned my website into a fulltime job, launched an app, killing it on the website, wrote a cookbook to share my story with other people and get to run around and be healthy, happy and energetic, passionate and smiling all the time now.
Jonathan: That’s awesome, George. I want to dig into you… It sounds like you obviously have faced a huge amount of adversity and you’ve come out of it very positively. But you have… When individuals face adversity, there is the “Go further down the rabbit hole into darkness,” and then it’s used as a platform to turn to the light. You’ve actually done both.
Jonathan: It sounds like… What was the mental state change, or what was the mental state that caused you to turn to the darkness and then the mental state change that caused you to turn to the light?
George: Yeah, that’s actually wow. That’s a deep point. That’s a really good question because I was in both of them. The darkest time was in 2006 — no, 2005. After the surgeries I was in my barracks room. I was in a wheelchair for close to 12 months. I would be in this room for a week or two at a time without people seeing me, and it was… I was really stuck in a victim mentality. Why did this happen to me? Why me? Why this? I didn’t do anything to deserve this. My whole life people had been beating me up and abusing me. Like why do I get it again? Like why? That’s really when it got the darkest for me.
I just kept validating my story. I had this belief that I was alone and that no one loved me and I was going to get beat up every day. No matter what happened, something bad was going to happen to me. So I went through life thinking that and I validated it every day. I’d keep taking pain pills. I’d keep eating pizzas. I’d keep throwing up. I’d keep ignoring people. And I never made a choice to be different, therefore I got to be right about myself every day and it was a deep, dark, horrible place to be.
What really shifted for me is when my father got diagnosed with cancer. I had been in and out of the deep, dark place and just kind of staying on medium ground from 2006 to 2008. Then my dad got diagnosed with metastatic brain and lung cancer on March 5th of 2008 and I lost him on December 6th of 2008. My whole life shifted.
The biggest take-away that I got is that life is urgent and life matters and that every single one of us gets to take a stand for ourselves and no one’s going to live your life for you. I think people go through life thinking they’re in the driver’s seat and in actuality they’re in the passenger seat and their belief system is driving their life. The day that I lost my Father I made a decision that I was going to drive my own life and make a difference in my own life and other people’s and that came from a place of self love and healing and work.
And it wasn’t a light switch overnight, but I had a glimpse of how precious life it and I refused to ever take it for granted. I said I’m never going to go to bed knowing I didn’t give it my all to tell everybody I love them, to inspire every person I saw, to put a smile on everybody’s face. It really just sparked this I don’t know this long-burning fire that will never be extinguished in me. Like it will never go away, ever.
Jonathan: George, that’s amazing. It reminds me of I believe Henry Ford has a famous quote where he says if you believe you can or can’t do something, you’re right.
George: You are.
Jonathan: And what so impresses me about your story is — correct me if I’m wrong — but I don’t think you have a formal training in how to be an author or how to be a website designer or how to be a chef. And you just did those things and are now doing them at a world class level.
George: Yeah. Yeah. I just share with everybody, when I started my website I didn’t even know what a blog was and I’d never cooked in my life. One of my biggest challenges with my eating disorders and also transitioning to this lifestyle was I literally couldn’t make anything that came out of a box or my belief was that I couldn’t make anything that didn’t come out of a box.
I was so low and I was determined to not be bulimic and to not run and hide and live in a world of insecurity anymore that I just said, “I’m going to do it and I really don’t care what gets in my way.” And once I started and the momentum started rolling, there was no stopping me. I taught myself web design. I talk myself food photography. I taught myself how to cook. I taught myself marketing, social media management. I said I’m really going to make a difference in people’s lives.
For me the driving force in that is realizing that there is a bigger world outside of myself, and in order to make a difference I get to stand for everybody’s highest possibility and it has nothing to do with me; but in order to get to do that, I get to love myself first and give my all to everything I do. I get to affect a critical mass of people that really get to be a difference in this world.
Jonathan: That’s beautiful, George. How important do you feel it was or how much of a motivator was it for you? You in some ways you went public by saying, “I’m going to take this and I’m going to do it on the Web, in front of people. And if I stumble, you know what? Other people are going to know about it.” How important do you think is that public and shared commitment?
George: I think it’s the most important thing ever. I think what we do as a society is we create this paradigm of right and wrong and we have this existential belief that everything in life has to be right or wrong. And it’s horrible because when you look at life and events, everything’s neutral. There is no right or wrong; there is no guilt or shame; there is no blame. It’s all interpretations that we’ve developed in life.
And for me, when I posted that post that day, that I was bulimic for 12 years and no one knew, I was scared out of my mind. I was shaking, I was sweating, like I didn’t know what I was doing. But in that moment, I knew that that’s exactly what I needed to do because I said to myself that I’m willing to pay whatever price it takes to really overcome this and be the difference.
I think about people I look up to, like Martin Luther King for example. Martin Luther King didn’t think the world would eventually have equality. He stood in the world as already being equal. He was willing to stand in whatever that looked like whether it was resistance, whether it was judgment, whether it was anger. He didn’t falter, and everyday he saw the world as equal.
I believe that is one of the most powerful things ever because we are so engrained as a society that there is right or wrong or that there is a belief system where if you eat grains or if you don’t work out or if you’re slightly obese that somehow that’s right or wrong.
I invite people to the possibility that you are perfect just the way you are and other people’s interpretations do not influence or define you or who you are as a person. And for me, I didn’t realize that until I hit post and until I got to stand in it.
I’m on the Internet just like you are and everybody else because I’ve got Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I mean hundreds of thousands of people. There are days I post things and people don’t want to hear it. They like, “Oh that’s stupid,” or “You’re wrong,” and it’s like great. And then I sit there and think about how is their day going that they get to say that to me? Like what’s going on with them and how can I support them?
And the truth is I just get to continue to show up. I get to really be clear on what I want and I get to stand in it whatever that looks like. And 99% of the time it’s joyous, it’s happy, it’s amazing; but there are those times where I think we are uncomfortable paying the prices it takes to get to our goals.
I personally love paying those prices now. I know that if I’m standing there and I’m tingling, for me tingle equals growth. If it feels numb, I’m not doing something right. If I’m scared, if I’m angry, if I’m emotional no matter what it is, that means I’m in the right place at the right time and it’s kind of dive head in and learn how to sew a parachute after I jump out of the plane.
Jonathan: I love that, brother. Well there is a bit of irony here and I’m real excited to discuss it with you. You talked about this not good nor bad, just being in the middle, being in the moment, being accepting. Well for people who are maybe not as familiar with your book, The Paleo Kitchen. Paleo Diet. They may have this perception this is very rigid and dogmatic approach and that in the book you make jokes about vegans and vegetarians and how they’re wrong or bad. How do you, as a luminary in the Paleo Community continue this message of “Let’s not focus on right or wrong; let’s focus on personal growth”?
George: Yeah and you know I love it because I didn’t even realize what Julie and I were creating when we started this book, but we went into the book with a mindset of everything gets to be fun. And that’s where we started at. We said no matter what happens that everything in this book gets to be fun, whether it’s cooking with someone and cleaning with someone, messing up a recipe with someone, eating, even overindulging in desserts with someone the basic premise is just to have fun.
I think that, as a society and as this Paleo Movement grows and it becomes mainstream, people are really getting attached to the labels and the dogmas of it and like really attacking that. What I invite people to is that really, for me as a visionary or whoever I am in the Paleo Community, I want people to be awake! I want people to be present and conscious.
I just don’t want people to be a mindless robot making decisions based on someone else’s knowledge, research or recommendations. So if that looks like paleo or primal or vegan or vegetarian, I’m going to high five you, hug you and support you. Like I don’t care!
I have coconut… We have coconut sugar in the book. We have vegan recipes, vegetarian recipes, paleo recipes that the paleo police are going to attack me for and I will willingly go like hands crossed. And I just refuse to stand in the fact that we can’t have everything, that we as adults get to choose. We don’t choose paleo because we want something. We choose paleo because we choose Paleo, and Paleo gets to be whatever you want and you don’t have to justify your decisions to anybody, no one.
I choose to eat chocolate chip cookies because I choose chocolate chip cookies. I know the consequences, I know the actions, I know the health ramifications and I get to make an educated decision as a human being. You don’t get to judge me for that. I don’t get to judge myself for that to make the decision and be in it and be happy that I made it.
And that’s really how this book’s different. Like I know it’s got Paleo in the title, and I am Paleo or primal and my website is and I just believe that if you’re not in life and you’re going through and you want to have a brownie or a cookie or a cake or a pie, then doing it with whole ingredients that I can name on one hand or two hands, that are honey, almond flour, coconut flower, anything along those lines that don’t have 65 ingredients is always going to be the better choice.
So I’d rather give you alternatives and give you better decision making and allow you to have things that will nourish your body or reduce the amount of negative consequences that you have so that you can continue on your path. And I mean I’m a little bit fired up about this, just a little bit.
But I remember that, when I went paleo, I was coming from a place of insecurity and bulimia. I was in the ultimate control state. I wanted it to be strict; it was hold 30 all the time; it was literally meat and vegetables, meat and vegetables. I was not living my life. I was not happy; I was miserable. I was controlling an outcome. It was all attached to something that I really had no control over and it was miserable.
I want people to love food. I want people to be in a state with their body that is joyous and happy so they can digest their food the way that they need to. I don’t want something negative or a negative annotation or anger tied to eating. I don’t want something negative tied to cooking so you’re afraid to get in the kitchen and you go get fast food. I don’t want that.
I want happy. I want fun. I want joyous. I want excited. I want energetic. Like I want you to mess up a recipe and laugh about it. Slather some bacon on it and eat it anyway and you’ll never make the mistake again but you don’t get to be wrong or don’t get to think that you’re a failure with our book.
You get to know that it’s fun. You get to know that if you make the mistake, you’ll never make it again. You’re going to eat it anyway and you’re going to learn and you’re going to move forward and you get to be happy about it. You really get to shift that mindset into a place of positivity and love, not insecurity and fear.
I don’t care what that looks like in the Paleo Community. I don’t care if I get ousted. I don’t care if I get like deported from the Paleo Community. I’m going to stand in that possibility no matter what, that people get to make decisions whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, standard American diet, Atkins. I don’t care. But if you make one choice, if you make one recipe from my book, you’re already making an informed decision and supporting your self and your lifestyle and you might not even know what that looks like yet. It just takes one. It took one for me. It took one person to ask me a question about why I felt like crap and it took one person for you to shift your mindset to a possibility. We do it every day and I’m just going to hold everybody there.
Jonathan: George, I really love this message of happiness and positivity because both you and I and a myriad other people on the Internet who are in this health field… Right? Health should be analogous with happiness and isn’t it ironic that the supposed healthy activities that dare I say hundreds of millions of people are engaged in don’t at all result in happiness! In fact they result in misery!
George: Yeah. And the thing is it’s so deep. We’re talking about a Paleo Cookbook and we’re getting into limiting beliefs and paradigm development as a child for what holds people back. But really, when I got to look at my life, I was a Cross Fitter, I was competitive. I was going to regionals. Like I was in it, eating paleo, doing zone, like I was that. I was like the guy in the vision that I always wanted to be. I had the six pack and I was perfect and if I cross fitted, people knew I was a bad guy — like just I was in it.
And I was miserable! Absolutely miserable. People asked me how I stay in shape. I have fun. I go to the trampoline park. I walk around my house on my hands. I do pistols. I roll around. I do cartwheels on the grass and my friends’ kids. I don’t put a label or a box on anything. Movement is fun. Life is fun. I shut my phone off, I shut my computer off when I go outside. I go for a hike. I go for a run. I walk, I do handstands. I just act like a little monkey and acting like a little monkey has kept me in better shape than I ever could have been in before.
I can’t ever imagine going back to this “I have to be four days a week or five days a week or six days a week.” Really it was all anchored in the belief that I had about myself that I wasn’t good enough with how I looked or I wasn’t good enough with how fast I could already run. I wasn’t good enough with how I looked at my clothes or how much weight I could lift.
And the truth is — and I said it before — we’re all perfect. Right now we are perfect, and until we accept that belief you’re never going to grow because it’s always going to come from a place of insecurity and not love. And love starts internally. There is no external factor that gets to influence your life. It all starts here and then once you have it here, you get to radiate it and share it with other people. It’s not talking about it. It’s not just like being around it. It’s just being it.
It’s infectious and it’s energetic and people are just attracted to you like one of those bug zappers that kills all the bugs. Like you’re a bug zapper and you get to bring people in and energize them and support them and like motivate and inspire them and it’s all just through your way of being. It’s not doing, it’s being. It’s having a mindset and coming from a loving and passionate and really energetic place.
Jonathan: George, speaking of beliefs and being, where can we go to learn more about all this goodness; because clearly we have gotten into this beautiful, metaphysical discussion here which I’m sure we could continue on for six hours. This is awesome. But at the other end, there is also this book coming out and you’ve got some websites. So tell us really quickly where we can get more information.
George: Yeah, I’m super stoked. There are recipes in the book, I promise. There are 125 of them and like it is not this really deep metaphysical personal development journey. It was delicious food. The book is called The Paleo Kitchen. It’s on the Paleokitchen.com.
I’m super excited that Julie from Paleo — OMG — is my co-author! None of it would have been possible without her. We worked tirelessly on this thing. She flew down from Colorado for seven trips to California. We hammered out six or seven recipes a day. We photographed them all. We put our heart into this and we made all brand new recipes, aren’t on our websites. We really put love and passion and fun into this and we gave people amazing alternatives.
It’s available at barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, Costco Worldwide on release date June 10th. And I’m just super excited. Like I don’t… Here, I’m just “Here we go!” That’s Heaven on the cover right there! It’s the only printed copy I have right now and that’s Heaven.
I get to make those pancakes like four times to get the perfect photo and it’s pure bliss and Nirvana in your mouth, right there. And the Paleo police might get upset, but you get to eat blueberry pancakes and you get to be happy about it and I want to high five you when you post a picture of it online.
Jonathan: I love it, George. Well one more time, give us those two URLs.
George: Yeah. The book is at the paleokitchen.com and then my website is civilizedcavemancooking.com where you can find all of this stuff, you can give me a high five or you can give me an email and I’ll write back and do whatever I can to help you, inspire you, laugh, smile, joy, whatever it takes.
Jonathan: Beautiful, George. Well hey, brother, thank you for being the change we both want to see in the world. Man, that’s just awesome and for sharing your time with us today.
George: Thanks for having me but it’s always a pleasure.
Jonathan: Listeners and viewers, I hope you enjoyed this wonderful conversation as much as I did, certainly a passionate and enjoyable one. And remember this week and every week after eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. We’ll chat with you soon. Bye.