A Little Free Advice

There are a lot of people in this world, usually for a lot of money, to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. To tell you that your effort isn’t good enough. To tell you that if only you’d do things their way all your dreams will come true.

Well guess what? I’m here, utterly for free, to tell you that if you’re doing anything, you’re doing it right.

You see, we live in a society that wants all the shortcuts to success. We don’t want to have to slug it out, enduring failure after failure, before we find our groove and start moving. We want hints and tips and tricks and everything else that will push us past the person on the other side of us doing the hard work and time to hone their craft. We love shortcuts, we’re addicted to them as a society. There is a whole class of people making a living on tips and tricks alone.

The horrible, insidious, and ironic thing is that tips and tricks alone rarely take away the complicated, hard work the truly successful endure. Because the horrible, insidious, and ironic thing about tips and tricks is that they may give you some pointers about what vector to use to attack a problem but rarely will a whole book of advice pave your personal yellow brick road. You’re the one that needs to do the work, put in the hours, and figure out what will work for you.

Now at this point, let me lift my hands and testify. I probably could have put a decent down payment on a car with the money I’ve spent on advice and self-help books over the years.

Fitness books.

Happiness books.

Success books.

I’m better advised than the President of the United States.

And the common thread in all of these books is that if I strictly adhere to set of rules then my total success as a  Human being is assured. You may even gain some amount of limited success over the short term. In the end though, all the rules get really hard to follow. Especially if you feel like you’re forcing yourself into a situation in the first place.

The truth is that long term success is paved with our, sometimes, constant failure. Through failure we learn how to attain success. For ourselves. It’s a hard truth to come to understand. Help is great but in the end we have to figure it all out by ourselves, no amount of rules or advice ultimately not meant for us is going to help.

So this morning, if you’re getting down on yourself because you don’t feel like you’re trying hard enough; just keep trying. Expertise is a muscle built by even a little bit of exercise every day. As that muscle grows you will feel like accomplishing more and you can level up from there. Don’t let anybody tell you that what you’re doing is wrong or not enough. Some days just getting out of bed can be an accomplishment in this messy and complicated life. I commend you for that.

Keep fighting.

The Rules of the Game

There’s one thing, do you see, that’s terrifying in this world, and this is that every man has his reasons.

Jean RenoirLa regle du jeu

Anyone who doesn’t believe there can be an emotional and psychological connection between a person and food hasn’t presided over a 3 week / 10 lbs. weight gain for little better reason than because bread and butter makes me feel good. Poetic justice? May be. Just desserts? Well desserts, just or not.

Lots of them.

And while I can’t precisely pinpoint the starting point of this downward spiral, at least I’m at the point where I’m trying to dig my feet in and stop. Sure, I’m still sliding a bit, but forward progress is slowing and hopefully this train can get turned around again sooner rather than later.

I’d be willing to bet there’s a lot of us out there tonight trying to do exactly the same thing. At least all of this has been instructive in that it’s taught me things are a lot more complicated than following a set of rules or behaviours and replicating success. Gluten is not your only enemy here. Sometimes your greatest enemy is yourself and that makes it all so very messy and crazy and out of control sometimes that you find yourself grasping for something, anything to make this crazy merry-go-round stop. Sometimes that grasping is for the aforementioned loaf of bread or the handful of chocolate chips I seem to be medicating regularly with or just sitting on the couch and savouring the sheer inactivity of it all. The grasping just gets so comfortable after a while that you kind of forget what it is you’re grasping for, let alone wonder why the hell you should even bother.

All of this to say that I get it now. I have so much more love and empathy and understanding for those people I may have passed in the street and scoffed at. Those people, I wondered to myself, just refused to try.

I’m sorry.

I get it.

This nightmare, this private long night from which you don’t think you’ll ever wake up, can just consume you and no amount of poking and prodding or downright passive aggressive “love” will ever seem to wake you up.

So my promise to you, my promise to me, is this. When I pass you on the street I will try to understand that I don’t have any idea what you had to go through this morning just to get out the door. I don’t know your reasons just like you don’t know mine. But if we both try to smile and appreciate each other for who we are in this very moment, the world will be improved just that much more.

Because you see, there are no rules to this game. There is no surefire road to success. There’s just a lot of struggling and striving and dirty work that isn’t pretty some days. We all just have to remember that some days the best tips and advice we can give isn’t that condescending, all-knowing look. It isn’t that pitying thought that’s crossing your mind. It isn’t that look of disbelief. It’s a smile and a nod and a genuine appreciation for how our day is. It may be just that one thing that makes us realize there is hope, there is a reason to keep fighting.

Because in the end that’s all we have.

I love you.

Keep fighting.

Spring Cleaning

As Winter draws to a close here in the Northern Hemisphere, thoughts turn to the approaching Spring.  Warm days spent outside without the need for several additional layers of clothing.  Opening windows sealed for five months to let the fresh air in.  The simple enjoyment of those extra hours of sunlight every day.  If you live in a cold weather climate like me, you know the exquisite pleasure of all of these rituals.

One other ritual we associate with Spring is the Spring Cleaning.  The advent of warmer weather turns thoughts to opening windows and doors and cleaning up the things accumulated during those long Winter days and nights.  In a similar vein, I would like to take this opportunity to clean up the Resources section of the site over the next couple of weeks.  If you have any favourite books, blogs, or resources you’d like to suggest please leave a comment with the information and I’ll be sure to add it.  Likewise, if you’ve found anything that needs to be removed from the Resources section, let me know and I’ll clean that up.  Let’s make this the best collaborative site for Paleo and Primal resources available!

Thanks!

(Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

A Little Housekeeping

I just wanted to take a moment to mention a little housekeeping I’ve conducted already and will be conducting over the next while.

First, the Resources page is live.  You can find it in the menu at the top of the page.  It now houses the links that were formerly in the sidebar.  I’ll be refining the categories for these links over the next week or so.  If you’d like to contribute to the categorization effort or have a link to suggest, see Help Wanted.

Second, you can probably expect a redesign in the next week or so as well.  I’m not entirely happy with the current layout so I may experiment with a couple of different ones before settling on a new theme.  If this was 1997 I’d hang a big Under Construction animated GIF at the top of the page.  Thankfully, it is no longer 1997.

Thanks for your patience and continued patronage.

Help Wanted

I need your help faithful Paleo Campfire reader.

You may have noticed that the link list on the right hand side of the blog is growing daily.  When I first started, I didn’t anticipate the sheer volume of great Paleo and Primal information available.  I’m going to take the link list and use it as the basis for a new Resources page I’ll get up and running shortly.  In the mean time, I need help with classifying and categorizing the existing links.  If you have any suggestions for categorizing the links (multiple categories are fine), please take a few moments to fill out this form with the page name and link, and the categories you’d like to suggest.  Similarly, if there is a page you’d like to suggest that I haven’t already captured, please feel free to do so.

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Getting Started

Suppose you’ve made the commitment to changing your life.  What’s next?  Here is a list of books and blogs I’ve found handy in my Paleo journey.  I hope you find them as helpful as I have.

Books

Blogs

If you’ve found other useful resources, share them with the community in the comments.  I’ll update the site with the information.

Remember that tips and tricks can only carry you so far.  The change actually has to come from you.

Good luck!

Denial

One of the most common reactions I get from people when I explain that I’ve changed my eating habits is “Oh really?  You must be really denying yourself food!”  They see the results and the only thing their frame of reference allows them to believe is that I must be starving myself.  After all, conventional wisdom states the only way to lose weight is to cut your total caloric intake.  Every calorie is the same so if you eat that jelly donut or that apple, they all add up in the same equation.  It never crosses anyone’s mind that instead of denying  myself totally of food, I’ve simply changed what I eat.  No more cereals and grains, no more processed food, and certainly no more sugary soft drinks and snacks.  I feel more fulfilled now eating healthy, home prepared meals than I ever did chasing gorging on Fruit Loops with guilt and abstaining; only to repeat the process.

60 – 100 years of bad information though has left us with the impression that there are only two roads to a healthy weight; lowering total calories and exercising until you feel like collapsing.  The good news of the Paleo / Primal lifestyle is that it doesn’t have to be that way.  As long as you eat properly, the whole idea is to eat until you feel full.  And yes, exercise is also a part of it as well but not the gut wrenching, torture sessions commercial exercise companies would have you believe is necessary.

But suppose you’re saying, that’s fine for you but I can’t make those changes.  I was like you once.  First, you have to decide that you’re willing to make this change.  You’re lost without dedication.  After that, why don’t you start that dedication this weekend by checking out these resources for information on healthy eating, healthy recipes, and exercise the Paleo and Primal way:

And once you’ve done all that, actually DO something.  You can sit on the couch reading tips and tricks all day but that isn’t going to make one change in your life.  You have to do it.  Won’t you decide to do it today?