How many of us get in our own way when it comes to leading the best life possible? The forms of self-obstruction are many and varied: We might only be dutiful about small changes. never taking the important big steps. Or we might hem and haw, cycling back and forth between rigor and passivity. We perhaps commit to improvements in certain health dimensions but forgo effort in others. We feel good about our positive choices but back away from scrutinizing the half measures. “I’m just too busy to do more than I’m already doing.” “I’ve made it further than I ever thought I could: I’ll quite while I’m ahead.” “I’m doing better than most people I know.” “This amount of change is manageable. I don’t want to push the envelope.” We tell ourselves a million things on the precipice looking out from good to great. There might be a hundred circumstances legitimately figuring into our decision to stay where we’re at in the “good enough,” but we need to be honest. Is there something in the view itself – the overlook to bigger success – that causes us to seize back consciously or unconsciously?
When it comes to living a healthy, Primal lifestyle, for the most part I’ve got things dialed in. There are very few things, if any, I’d change about my eating plan, my workouts, or my sleep schedule, for example, but there are some areas in which I know I can improve. Some major, some not so major. Like everyone does, I’d imagine. Nearly all of my struggles are related to finding a deeper sense of peace and contentment in this hectic modern world. In fact, I selfishly wrote a book, The Primal Connection, to give myself more tools and strategies to achieve the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from within that we all seek. (The book, you may be happy to know, recently won the Eric Hoffer award for best self-published book of 2013.)
While I’ve made some strides in these areas in recent years, the journey is never over. There is no perfect lifestyle or perfect diet or perfect workout. We all have something, or some things, we’d like to get better at. We all have struggles. So, today, I thought I’d share with you guys some of my personal struggles, as well as some ways for addressing and even overcoming them.
I’ve got guilt on the mind today – not my own (that I know of) but the concept, the power, the influence that seems to fuel and complicate so much of our lives, our health journeys notwithstanding. How many of us have felt led by guilt – for better or for worse – as we tried to lose weight and/or tried to live a healthy life? Although we tend to view guilt as a negative emotion, has it added something positive or facilitated our success? What are the contexts guilt takes on in our efforts toward health? What are the narratives we assign to the feeling, and are they bound up in other, less effective influences?
Becoming healthy is as much a mental process as it is a physical experience. Most of us would admit we find ourselves overhauling much more than simply our dinner plates or daily exercise. Oftentimes, we’re upending years – or decades – of unhealthy inertia as well as eating, destructive self-talk as well as inactivity. I hear from a lot of beginners who say they look to certain posts or even paragraphs when the going gets tough. Something they read here sticks with them, and it touches off something in their motivation. On a good day, it helps them go the extra mile. On a crappy day, it offers them a kind of reset button. All of us, I think, have those phrases, sayings – mantras – that bolster us in some personal way. Whether we’re standing at the beginning of a new healthy lifestyle change or rounding mile twenty in a marathon, tapping into the power of our mantra mentality can transform the energy we bring to a given moment and our journey as a whole.
“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”
- Thomas Edison
Remember when you were a kid flying down the street as fast as your dirt bike would propel you? How about on the swing set, pumping your legs madly, targeting angle and timing for maximum lift until you felt like you would fly over the overhead bar? What about that sheer thrill of legs going so fast they almost felt like they were coming loose as you chased your friends (or were chased) down a trail? As kids we were an unrelenting ball of will, every moment looking to test boundaries, defy limits, overturn physics. We were in love with speed and heights and adventure, yes, but I think we were amazed by all of our own capabilities – the new (and ever enhanced) capacities we were always discovering. Decades beyond those wild days of youth, we’re still each in possession of an amazing human body. We each still hold untold genetic potential – potential that, as the Edison quote suggests, would astound us. The question is, what do we do with this potential? Do we chase it down with the same fervor of our 10-year-old selves? Do we put it on the mental back burner in the name of adult responsibilities? Have we simply forgotten about it – or given up on it entirely?
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