Jeremy Hendon was about 18 years old when focusing on his health became a priority, but it wouldn’t be until several years later that he discovered the health approach that would become not just his lifestyle, but his livelihood: paleo. Having experienced firsthand the benefits of living paleo, Jeremy and his wife Louise have spent over a decade building a name for themselves in the realm of health and paleo living. From blogs and books to speaking and coaching, the couple has successfully made paleo their business – all while living as digital nomads and trotting the globe.
Growing up, health and wellness were not always central components of Jeremy’s life.
“I was always fat as a kid,” Jeremy says about health, adding that his weight growing up always served as a source of discomfort for him. It was this early struggle that eventually drove him to turn his attention to his health when he hit the age of 18. “I got into low-carb diets around 2004 or 2005, and that started working really well for me from a weight loss/keeping the weight off perspective.”
Even having had success with low-carb diets, it took a few years for Jeremy to begin contemplating going paleo. This seemed like a natural shift from low-carb, since the diet is largely void of grains. But beyond the natural segue, Jeremy, who is a self-proclaimed geek, was drawn to the methodology behind the diet, which he had read about in great detail prior to making the leap himself.
“It was really a good fit for me because I had done so much research,” says Jeremy, who made the switch to paleo around 2006. Despite not always staying perfectly paleo in the time since –he says that first four years especially were a bit on and off as he got used to the lifestyle – he has never really looked back. “I’m just really into the science. And particularly in the early days of paleo, before tons of bloggers and various people got into it, it was very much just based on the science; on what we know happens in our bodies with various foods, various components, and things like that.”
About three years after he had jumped on board the paleo train, Louise followed suit, a decision which was not so much rooted in a desire to lose weight, but rather a desire to get her digestive system on track.
“As soon as she started, a lot of her digestive issues cleared up within a week,” says Jeremy. “So she was sold pretty quickly.”
BUILDING A BUSINESS
Even as paleo became a key component of Jeremy’s lifestyle, it was a while before the former lawyer decided to give up a legal career in favor of making paleo a professional focus as well.
“Even after about six months of practicing law, I knew I didn’t love it and I knew I wasn’t going to do it forever,” says Jeremy. “I never wanted to become a partner or anything. It bored me a little bit, to be honest. So I didn’t know for a long time what I wanted to do. But I stuck it out for about six and a half years and I didn’t really make the decision until early 2011 – probably February or March – to do something else. I didn’t know what that something else was going to be but I knew I was going to quit.”
That something else finally took the shape of a food company called Louise’s Food, which Jeremy and his wife Louise founded together in October 2011. The duo began manufacturing, packaging, and selling their own grain-free, low-carb cereal and granola.
“We got some TV exposure, and it sold in stores nationally,” says Jeremy, adding that the venture proved to be pretty successful in the time that they worked on it.
It was in August of 2012, when Jeremy and Louise started their first magazine – Paleo Living – and then in May 2013, when they launched their second – Healthy Recipes – that the pair began to realize that they were better at working on these kinds of projects than they were at manufacturing and selling food. Having come to that realization, they decided to wind the Louise’s Food company down towards the end of 2014 and focus their attention on their existing magazines, as well as a new online magazine called PaleoMagazine.com.
“The website was linked to the magazine loosely,” says Jeremy, “but then we unlinked it and sold the magazine last summer. We focused on building the website, over that whole time frame, we also sold a lot of books” – they have authored numerous paleo cookbooks and general books on living paleo – “and did some coaching and speaking.”
THE BIG PICTURE
“We had two primary goals, aside from it being a business, obviously,” says Jeremy about the motivations behind launching PaleoMagazine.com and building a career out of guiding others on living paleo. “One way that we view ourselves differently is that more than most bloggers or paleo sites out there – and there are exceptions to this, some of them are really good – but more than the vast majority, we’re much more focused on science, and, to an extent, accuracy.”
Jeremy gives the example of GMO’s which he notes that, despite widespread condemnation, are actually not as big of a problem as mainstream media would lead us to believe.
“I mean this is almost blasphemy within paleo circles,” he jokes, “but the fact of the matter is, there are tens of thousands of independent government- or nonprofit-funded studies that have found no harm for any GMOs over the past three years. So you won’t see anything on our site bashing GMOs. Louise and I can’t do it because we’re just so into the science. We don’t like fueling the fire.”
Jeremy adds that the second major goal of PaleoMagazine.com is focusing on simplicity, and paying attention to what really matters instead of getting hung up on trivial details. In this sense, he gives the example of eating organic foods.
“At the end of the day, it’s much better to be eating non-organic fruits and vegetables than it is to be eating organic processed foods,” he says, highlighting the clear “no nonsense” approach that he and Louise take towards healthy, whereby the key is looking at, and understanding, how choices affect bodies on a large level.
THE PALEO LIFESTYLE
Jeremy will be the first to say that living paleo has not always been without its struggles, and as someone who chooses to live life on the move, constantly hopping from country to country – he and Louise are currently spending a few months living and working from Portugal – travel has posed an especially tough obstacle.
“Luckily, the fact that I’ve been doing it almost ten years means that I’ve learned so much about what really affects me,” he says, saying that having been strict in his lifestyle for a time allowed him to reintroduce foods slowly and to get a strong understanding of what works for him and what doesn’t. Louise’s ability to do the same has made maintaining a paleo lifestyle while on the move a great deal simpler, as has their passion for prepping meals from scratch.
“Even outside of paleo, I’d love for people to be more connected to their food,” says Jeremy. “It helps them realize what’s going into their food. When you don’t see everything that’s going into your food, you don’t really feel it. You’re not observing it and seeing it on a continuous basis, so you end up letting a lot of things fly, like eating more sugar.”
But perhaps the most crucial component of successfully adopting a paleo lifestyle is realizing that it is just that: a lifestyle. Jeremy really puts a strong focus on the fact that this is not just another diet, but really is a comprehensive, well-researched approach to living healthy.
“Paleo is designed to make us healthy,” he says. “It’s primarily anti-inflammatory. It’s also a diet that increases the nutrients that you’re taking in. When you are healthier, it’s easy to lose weight. You end up moving more because your body has more energy, you end up eating less because you’re generally eating less hyper-palatable foods. Then paleo emphasizes other things, like sleep. If you’re not sleeping well, it almost doesn’t matter what you’re eating. So paleo is kind of a larger framework.”
Understanding paleo on this grander scale in turn allows people to understand one of the things that Jeremy values as a key takeaway of paleo living: self compassion.
“We’re used to beating ourselves up to some degree,” he says, “and the problem with low-calorie, or low-carb diets, is that you’re just fighting against food to a certain degree. But the thing with paleo, is that you’re focusing on putting good, nourishing foods in your body. And when you focus on that, it automatically starts to lead to self-compassion because your brain just sees you taking care of, and trying to heal and nourish, your body and yourself.” And after all, isn’t that the ultimate goal of any health journey?