I was one of the unfortunate many that have been laid off and would love to get into a career that dealt with Paleo and its ability to heal. Do any of you work in a Paleo career or have any ideas that you would recommend?
I was looking in to getting a psychology degree and then trying to heal patients by looking at their actions through an evolutionary lens and by implementing diet, exercise, sun exposure, community, green space and other Paleo concepts that have helped me so much. I noticed that there is a field called Evolutionary Psychology but it doesnt seem to get much respect.
Another avenue would be a dietitian; however Im sure learning conventional wisdom in all of the course work would be miserable. In addition although I am fit and physically healthy I am by no means a magazine cover model and feel that the physical appearance of a trainer does impact their business (I could be wrong). I also came to Paleo for the mental health aspects but if I could help people through diet I think it could also be very interesting.
Anyway, any thoughts or direction would be greatly appreciated.
As far as careers go, I think your options are pretty much academics, which doesn't sound like what you are interested in.
Which is why it's time to think outside the box! Anyone looking to start an unconventional career that seems "impossible" except "in academics" may very well have their views changed after reading some Tim Ferriss and especially his book about time "arbitrage" and paving the life/career you want. Less like a self-help woowoo motivation book, more like a "blow your brains out and open your eyes to new possibilities with the right tools" book.
PortlandAllan has the right idea:
I think building a web site/blog reputation that you could leverage into a personal trainer/diet coach/etc. -- something that doesn't require a credential investment and has a low barrier for marketing and finding clients
It's just a matter of convincing people to pay you for what you have to offer. As a budding entrepreneur, I think of it in 3 parts:
1) defining WHAT you offer into a package (eg. nutrition counselling specializing in treating depression, an ebook on implementing paleo and mental relaxation methods, a recipe collection)
2) defining WHO can benefit from your offer
3) letting people KNOW about it (marketing, promotion, talking to people about it)
Maybe even combine Paleo experience with another personal interest/area of expertise, to make for a unique offering to potential "clients". Paleo specialty life coaching, as someone mentioned, sounds like an option. Or if you want to come across as more concrete and goal-oriented (less vague/ woowoo fairy stuff), maybe career coaching with stress relief/mental health-by-diet specialty?
In any case, all of these don't require an expensive Masters or PhD. Credentials, (aside from those who truly desire to do academics/traditional professional work, no disrespect) are only useful for hiding behind a sense of inadequacy. It's like saying you're not sure if you're good enough to provide value/help others directly, so "I got the degree just in case I couldn't do what I actually want to do"....but clearly, ANYONE who knows about paleo has SO much potential ability to help others. How many unhealthy people are out there?
It's about confidence, which I'm sure you know a lot about :)
I've given this thought as well. I think building a web site/blog reputation that you could leverage into a personal trainer/diet coach/etc. -- something that doesn't require a credential investment and has a low barrier for marketing and finding clients (I'm thinking run ads in craigslist and weekly tabloid newspapers) is the way to go.
Of course, this assumes you live somewhere with enough population that you could realistically hope to find enough paying clients.
What about being a "Paleo Personal Chef"? You'd prepare delicious, diverse, portable and Paleo meals for your clientele and charge a monthly price. It's not uncommon in many urban areas, especially for busy singles.
Getting onboard the "Paleo" wagon has inspired me to take a class this semester called "Primal Minds." I have learned so much awesome stuff about how primal cultures often fare better in ways other than diet that I have decided to pursue a degree in Anthropology with a heavy emphasis on biology as well.
Edit: Oh yeah, 1st post!
I got my degree in psychology, and LOVED Evolutionary psychology, took any class that somehow related to it. The strong focus is on natural & sexual selection. You will learn a lot about why certain traits exist - because they made people more likely to live, or to be mated with. Mating is a big topic. We also learned a bit about warfare & violence. And, of course the topics of kin theory (you do things to support those who have shared genes), game theory/tit for tat, etc.
Oddly, though, we didn't learn much about how current psychological issues (disorders like depression and anxiety; motivation; learning; etc) are related to evolutionary theory. I did not get a graduate degree in it, though, so perhaps in grad school there is more info related to that.
I would recommend you read some of the literature before you go into it (The Selfish Gene, The Red Queen, etc). As far as careers go, I think your options are pretty much academics, which doesn't sound like what you are interested in.
Though I hesitate to say the phrase, it sounds like something you'd like to do is to be a Life Coach, with the specific focus on Paleo lifestyle.
You might also want to try Environmental Psychology, which I think will be more related to what you are thinking of than evolutionary psychology. Environmental psychology focuses on the interplay between human beings and their surroundings. I haven't studied this, but from what I have read, one aspect is to get people out into natural surroundings, as a treatment method. ?
Yes, I'm with you, though. This is something that I've been thinking a lot about. I was even thinking that it would be cool to do a reality show, where you took typical SAD Americans, and had them live a paleo life for 3 months, and show what a huge difference it makes.
A lot of good advice on this forum thread!!
Have you heard of Evolutionary Neuroscience? New peer-reviewed journal and the editor Prof Steven Platek will be producing a poster at the Ancestral Health Symposium. (the journal had a recent article on Einstein's BRAIN which made the top 100 in Discover) http://frontiersin.org/neuroscience/evolutionaryneuroscience/editorialboard/
He ALSO has his on blog and is Crossfit Level certified, into educating on Paleo and health.
Consider contacting him for ideas? We email and he is a fantastic educator with AMAZING ideas.
I don't know much about Psych but what I see in the chronic health conditions field is part of recidivism and failures in treatment are related to psychosocial barriers. One thing I never regreted was getting an extra certification for more indepth knowledge and credentialling (the CDE -- certified diabetes educator and Crossfit nutrition cert --w/ Robb Wolf (and Nicki wink).
Good luck with ALL your endeavors and hope this adventure yields much fruition and passion!
You know what I always thought could make a decent business? Providing specialty food for people who are in hospital. I've no idea if hospitals even allow that, but I know if I had to spend time in hospital I sure wouldn't touch what they serve there, and would gladly pay for some sort of specialty catering/delivery service.
'Life coaching' is a good one as well (evolutionary life coaching?), but you really have to put out a ton of effort into differentiating and marketing yourself. I work with a lot of life coaches (branding, marketing, web etc) and the market is pretty saturated and continually growing... but you position yourself right, and get in front of the people who want what you're offering, and you can do well (and do good at the same time)
Other than that... what about working with animals in some capacity?
I'm in a conventional dietetics program, which I would probably recommend over other nutrition programs if you are interested in being able to work with a wide variety of people and appear accredited to them. It's amazing how as soon as you say "I'm a nutritionist" instead of "I'm a dietitian", peoples eyes immediately glaze over, and hardly any scientists will take you seriously. I've switched into my program after getting my way halfway through a microbiology/chemistry degree, which made it relatively easy for prerequisites, but if you haven't taken any science it's a bit of a pain to get into. My program length is 5 years, so it is also a big commitment. It is true, some of the nutrition courses are absolutely painful, but if you are lucky you will be able to compliment your program with lots of useful courses (statistics, media writing, business management, organic chemistry, animal physiology...).
I thought that the profs were going to be tough to deal with in a conventional dietetics program, but it surprised me how open-minded my nutrition profs have been so far. They are true scientists, and will be the first ones to tell you that we know way less about nutrition than we let on. They are also very upfront with government recommendations and the effects that lobbyists have had on the food system. I complained about how outdated one of our textbooks were to one of my profs, and she told me to highlight every statement I disagreed with, and keep the textbook with me for the rest of my degree program. If there is any statement I cannot solve, she said she would back me as a teacher sponsor if I applied for a research grant. She also prefixed our whole section on lipids to our class as "for the record, you need to know this for the tests, but I agree with very few things I am about to tell you. It is your job to find out why, and come back to me with your arguments". We also have lots of guest talks by anthropologists, which has been one of my favourite aspects of the program. Amazing insight, first hand, from all over the world, brought into the classroom.
One of the things I didn't think about: the actual students in the program. Having been in microbiology/chemistry, I was more used to conventional, "purist" scientists. Nutrition/dietetics students have this attitude of blaming and shaming the overweight, and most of the students are females. It is actually quite upsetting, I got very worked up one class hearing people talk about how the government should take away any child who is in the 90th percentile away from their parents. I went to the school services and the faculty department to talk to them about this incident, and they said this is very typical of first year dietetics classes, and that is why they are trying to get as many anthropologists/psychologists into the classroom in the first year. But yeah, people are getting more tolerant, but be prepared to be surround by students that are not the slightest bit overweight, wear yoga pants, were athletes in high school, and eat Lean Cuisine. Seriously, no one can cook. It's weird.
Overall: right choice for me, and what I want to do in my future, but probably won't fit many people.
If you're into outdoorsy stuff, NOLS or Outward Bound instructor?
Neither of those groups eat Paleo when they're out on an expedition, but I know NOLS at least suffers from a lot of CW when it comes to dietary practices (they do teach a nutrition class, as well as spend a lot of time teaching groups how to cook in the backcountry). There's also practical concerns for how to carry enough food for multiple people for many days without re-supply.
I do wonder what would happen if I went on another trip with them and wrote down on my medical information that I medically couldn't eat what, grains, gluten, or sugar of any kind. They are capable of accomadating gluten free; one of my group members had some special food for this, but it was gluten-free pasta and other stuff like that.
But food aside, NOLS is awesome.
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