Two years ago Charlène Gisèle was nearing burnout at the age of 32. Stuck in a stressful job, her marriage had ended and she had no time to eat healthily or to exercise.
So when she was offered redundancy, she took it – and set off on a mission to transform her life.
Charlène started by retraining as a yoga instructor, before following her instincts to embrace a primal way of life inspired by our Stone Age caveman ancestors.
She explains: “A basic way of life is accessible to everyone, as our ancestors used to live this way when they had much less than us.
“Anyone can do it. They just need to follow a few simple rules.”
Here are the steps that helped Charlène reach her primal dream:
Detox your diet
Good news: this doesn’t mean cutting out all the good stuff.
Charlène advocates including plenty of meat, veg and eggs – it’s processed food that she says should be avoided.
“The healthiest way to eat is to replicate the caveman diet,” she says. “Go back to nature and eat naturally.”
TOP TIP: Introduce a tribe vibe to your cooking. Get everyone involved in making the evening meal. Even small children can chop vegetables, stir a pan or lay the table.
Clearing out unhealthy food lurking in your kitchen is an important step, as it makes it easier not to fall back on processed rubbish when you’re tired or in a rush.
“Think about quality over quantity,” says Charlène. “Avoid poisonous things, our ancestors did. That cereal bar you eat first thing isn’t a quality breakfast. Once you’ve removed sugary, processed items you can replace them with healthy options.”
TOP TIP: Have a go at intermittent fasting, where you leave a large gap – try 16 hours – between your evening meal and next day’s breakfast to create a fasting period in your day.
Sort your sleep
“We’re so overshadowed by our screens and phones that we’ve lost touch with the circadian rhythms our ancestors lived by,” cautions Charlène.
While it’s not always practical to rise with the sun and go to bed with the Moon, there are good habits you can adopt if you’re seeking a restful sleep.
“Turn off screens a couple of hours before bed,” she says.
“Make sure your room is dark so your body knows that it’s night-time. When you wake, bathe your skin in sunlight by throwing open all the curtains and the windows.”
TOP TIP: On weekends try to wake up naturally and, once you’re awake, don’t switch on the TV. Instead, get up and get outside for a walk to start your day.
The modern world can be very comfortable – something our ancestors would not have experienced, says Charlène.
“Our ancestors would carry big boulders around, but now many of us avoid lifting and carrying heavy items in case we injure our backs.
“But with a bit of training we can all lift heavier things. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable, it helps us grow.”
TOP TIP: Step out of your comfort zone… into an ice bath. Breathe through it and trust your body. A cold shower will work just as well.
Learn to play
“Studies show that our ancestors used to play all the time,” says Charlène. “We’ve forgotten how to play and feel silly if we do childlike, things, but it’s actually really good for us. Take a moment to observe pets or a young child, they always find something to play with.”
The same is true with your sex life. Think about whether you’re creating intimacy and fun, or are you stuck in a routine? Use eye contact and massage to recreate your desires.
TOP TIP: See the whole world as a playground – take time to tell stories, plait someone’s hair, or to do a silly dance.
You may not rival Usain Bolt, but sprinting once or twice a month is really good for physical and mental wellbeing.
“When we were hunters we’d have to chase down food,” Charlène says. “It’s part of who we are.
“Try sprinting as hard as you can, for anything from 30 seconds up to a maximum four minutes. Do this once or twice a month if you can.”
TOP TIP: Take a frisbee to the park and play with your family. You’ll have to sprint to catch it and you’ll be having fun, so it won’t feel like hard work.
In our time-pressured world, we end up multi-tasking – and having accidents.
“Think how you stumble when you walk and text, or cut your finger slicing vegetables if you don’t pay attention.
“It’s important to be present in the moment, however mundane the task.
“Not only will it give more meaning to your life, you will feel greater satisfaction even from small jobs.”
TOP TIP: When you eat your dinner, don’t be distracted by the TV or your phone. Focus on what’s on your plate and chew each mouthful with purpose.
Stretch your brain
“It’s important to use your brain creatively,” says Charlène. “It can be anything from learning a new language or drawing to thinking positively.
“Our ancestors practised art and craftsmanship – it’s important to switch between work and creativity.”
TOP TIP: Start the day by writing down five things you’re grateful for. Or repeat positive affirmations to yourself for a few minutes each morning.
More info: charlenegisele.com