2

votes

I hate the cold - should I go south for the winter or should I hibernate?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 24, 2010 at 9:24 PM

I live in England (East Midlands) and its just starting to get cold. Since going paleo I try to consider everything from an evolutionary perspective instead of just doing the same old. Clearly paleo man was lean and muscular so I'm wondering how an animal that evolved with little body fat and no fur ever got through the ice age. Looking at the picture of Mark Sisson and his wife on the back cover flap of the Primal Blueprint it is obvious we evolved to live near warm water (Malibu!!) So have we moved out of our ecological niche or has living with lots of warm layers and central heating made us (well me) wimps?

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on November 27, 2010
at 12:07 PM

Or take up winter sports. Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, winter camping skating... there's a lot to do outdoors in the winter, and proper clothing and exercise will keep you nice and warm. Mind you, one thing I have noticed since going Paleo is that I'm not as well insulated as I used to be.

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on November 27, 2010
at 12:05 PM

@Matthew: at least he doesn't live in Canada.

Medium avatar

(7073)

on November 26, 2010
at 10:24 AM

Good luck, I hear that snow is on the way! Hope it is not a repeat of last year.....

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 25, 2010
at 03:26 AM

Yes, maybe my hypothyroidism was the last straw that made me want to get away from the cold every winter.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on November 25, 2010
at 12:27 AM

Hey, at least you don't live in Scotland.

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8 Answers

2
Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

on November 25, 2010
at 01:33 AM

There's no such thing as cold, only inadequate gear. Fur really doesn't preserve well, so there's very little archaeological evidence to go on, but ice age humans probably had excellent tailored fur clothing and a host of cold-weather survival skills to match.

Just Google Inuit clothing; given that they're operating in some pretty hostile arctic conditions, and up until contact were working with, well, fairly paleolothic tools, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Neanderthals weren't wearing similar clothes; similar tech, similar materials, similar conditions lead to similar solutions.

2
6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on November 25, 2010
at 12:16 AM

First of all, consider getting thyroid tests (TSH, FT4) if you haven't had them recently. Hypothyroidism can reduce cold tolerance. Make sure you're getting enough iodine in your diet.

Also, before you pack your bags, you may want to try some treatments that are used for seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I'm not saying that you actually have SAD, but you may be on the lower half of the bell curve in your tolerance for winter conditions. Options include:

1) Phototherapy--use a therapeutic light box or get sunlight for at least 30 minutes twice a day

2) Vitamin D3 supplements--The standard dose for depressive symptoms is 2000 units a day

3) Fish oil--If you don't eat fish regularly, consider omega-3 supplements

4) Exercise--Regular low and high intensity exercise can improve SAD symptoms

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 25, 2010
at 03:26 AM

Yes, maybe my hypothyroidism was the last straw that made me want to get away from the cold every winter.

2
D4586f8cac3bbbd49c3540f774247256

(270)

on November 24, 2010
at 09:40 PM

I think the real point with paleo concept is adaptability, so adapting to the circumstances at hand is what it's all about. Although warm weather is of course more comfortable, a warmer climate would also demand some kind of adaptability (i.e. it's about doing what you can with what you have, not what you "should" have). Hope I'm not being a total killjoy :P I live and Iceland and have thought the very same thoughts :)

1
3a966a805e09d88b0f223f2985392e4f

(836)

on November 28, 2010
at 03:11 PM

The answer is that we moved out of our ecological niche. We didn't even leave Africa til about 70-80 thousand years ago, and even then it was a movement along the equator to the Indian subcontinent and Indonesia. We didn't get much migration to your part of Europe til 10,000 years ago at the earliest.

Cordain has a great article about the evolution of white skin (which is more responsive to sunlight in producing vitamin D) in The Paleo Diet newsletter. That is a very recent adaption in terms of the evolutionary timescale. I think it must have been the norm to be exposed to sun on our bodies and produce vitamin D throughout the year. You cannot produce vitamin D for much of the year in your location.

I suggest you go South, since hibernation is not what hominids do (contrary to the BS in the book "Lights Out").

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 25, 2010
at 03:55 AM

Many tribes even to this day are migratory. They move across the land according to season in order to avoid the crappy weather. Many native American populations had different traditional winter and summer campsites. They went up the mountain in the summer to beat the heat and then back down the mountain in winter to dodge the cold snows. So IMO, the urge to migrate out of uncomfortable regions is natural. If you do better in another climate, you are probably better genetically adapted for that environment anyway. Besides, no need to live miserable just because of some funky eating plan! I love paleo and all but the point of it is to eat good food, feel better, and be more healthy, not feel all miserable huddled down hiding in your house because you hate the weather. And the best kind of vitamin D is D from the sun so if you want sun, my advice is go and get you some!

1
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on November 24, 2010
at 11:52 PM

well, yes i do believe we've moved out of the environs that forged our current bodies. But, that is moot. Stay in the cold and stick it out. Change in environs represents a good challenge for us all, both mentally and physically. Struggle to find ways of staying vibrant, challenge friends to alter their more pub-y routines by doing something at least somewhat athletic with you, maybe eat less (or more!) to reflect your changes in activity, etcetc. I guess i just mean that you can view it as a good challenge rather than something to buy an airfare from.

Oh, from me stuck in NYC all year round every year. It gets seriously cold, snowy, grey, dirty, etc;)

1
F82f7d4dafb6d0ffc4c2ee2a85420786

(484)

on November 24, 2010
at 10:29 PM

I've lived in Australia most of my life, and the UK for two years. I can say, comparatively, the cold is depressing and demotivating. Sure, we have winter in Sydney, but it goes for a couple of months, and rarely gets below 15 degrees in the day.

The thing I noticed most about English weather is the lifestyle it encourages - there is little chance or reason to get out and about, so people hunker down and just go to the pub. Colleagues at my London workplace were amazed that I would exercise before work (it was around zero degrees at that time) - and we didn't even start til 9.30am. What else would you do all morning?

So yes, go somewhere warm and relaxed, and you will feel the difference.

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on November 27, 2010
at 12:07 PM

Or take up winter sports. Snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, winter camping skating... there's a lot to do outdoors in the winter, and proper clothing and exercise will keep you nice and warm. Mind you, one thing I have noticed since going Paleo is that I'm not as well insulated as I used to be.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 24, 2010
at 09:49 PM

Well we opted for the 'go south and get warm and comfortable' choice. I would far rather adapt to the heat and humidity here in Mexico than get all sore and arthritic shovelling snow in a snow belt in northern BC.

My arthritis is almost non-existant down here and my husband's type 2 diabetes gets better almost the minute we cross the border into Mexico.

I can alway shovel sand to get my exercise!

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