I did the Whole30 about two years ago, which is an intense paleo 30-day regimen. As a result, I read a lot of articles and blogs about the paleo lifestyle. Besides the diet restrictions, die-hard paleo devotees often commit to “caveman” fitness regimes. The old-school uses for our bodies involved hours of walking, short periods of sprinting, and lifting heavy stuff. Those are the pillars of caveman workouts. The whole idea of paleo is that it’s a lifestyle for optimal well-being.
This past February I was given a book called The Tenant of Wildfell Hall for Galentine’s Day. I’m always trying to up the amount of book-reading that I do, so I dove into the volume even though Victorian novels are not exactly my jam. Not only was the text a pleasantly feminist surprise, it also made me reevaluate my feelings towards many facets of Victorian life. Looking at these character’s everyday lives, I started to think that injecting some Victorian into our own could do even more for our spiritual well-being than paleo! In the list below, I make the argument for why we could all be better from a little Victorian flair.
Caveat: Obviously the reason that I’ve never been into the Victorian era is the “place of women in society” and all the bigotry that abounded. But the modern paleo adaptations certainly don’t involve dudes beating each other to death for the right to mate with the most fertile-looking women or the general eschewing of clothing or whatever questionable stuff was acceptable at that time. It’s all about picking the right parts. So here are some of the high points of a semi-Vic lifestyle. That’s a fair thing to call it since we’re trashing most of the ideology of the time, right?
- Actually Making Time To Read: Netflix is a blessing, but also makes it awful hard to remember to read. Reading, unlike watching TV and film, stimulates your brain and keeps your sharp and makes you smart and a whole bunch of other great things. Victorians read all the damn time. We’d all benefit from a semi-Vic decrease in screen-time and increase in page-time, even if it’s slight.
- Going For Walks Everyday: Long walks were social events, exercise, and opportunities to spend time in nature. Being in the city, I’ve never valued the sight of trees more. I love leisurely walks on temperate nights. I’ve had some of my best deep conversations on these jaunts. Walks are an opportunity to slow down and just be. And our bodies crave them. And nature. So this tenet of semi-Vic living is a real win-win-win.
- Pursuit Of The Arts: It’s astonishing how many people in these books pursue musical skill, painting, and other art forms just for the heck of it. Not to be professional or to get famous, it’s just something that they value. Sure, some of them do it to get higher-class husbands, but whatever! In our work work work work work society (sung to the Rihanna melody, obviously), we could use a wider concentration on the arts. Anyone can be a musician or a poet! The world is a brighter place with each new artful moment! (Woah, unintentional rhyme for the win!) Let’s embrace the everyday arts! They’re good for our souls, minds, and stress levels.
- Picnics, Dinner Parties, & Teas: Getting drinks out at a club is cool and all, but damn I like dinner parties. The Victorians got how to have personal meals. Meals that focused on relaxation and interpersonal connection, not the half-conscious scarfing of calories that we do in front of our computers. Screen-eating is a reality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t insert a few social eating events into every week, or at least every month. Who doesn’t love a picnic? Who doesn’t gag for the glory of a tea? I adore teas. I wish I could have tea with the little sandwiches and pastries every afternoon, but since I have $0 I’ll settle for once in a blue moon, or maybe twice if I’m lucky.
- Made From Scratch: Now I’m not saying that the Victorian diet was super-healthy or anything like that, but much like the paleo diet, it wasn’t heavy in chemicals. All of us could really benefit from cutting chemicals, that’s for sure. This is the most valuable thing that I learned from the Whole30 and it’s just as valid for semi-Vic living.
See? There are some solid tenets to this lifestyle. Just cut out all the bullshit of the Victorian era, the obsession with purity and shame, the marriage as a business transaction, the sexism, the racism, the homophobia, all that bullsh that really lasted WAY too long as a part of society, and just pick out the parts that will make us saner, better people.
Could semi-Vic be the next Paleo? Probs not, but I’m still going to try to focus on many of the above points. I’m so bad at making time to read. So bad. But maybe I’ll get better, with time.