No matter how old – and busy – I get in life, when summer rolls around, I still think of the leisure of the season as a kid. As much as I looked forward to the open-ended days of running wild, however, at some point I’d inevitably find myself bored. My best friend would be away on vacation. The weather would be too consistent. Whatever the case, I’d find myself feeling like I’d seen and done all there was to do a million times over. I’d mope and grumble (gaining no sympathy in the process). In those days, there was no gadgetry to surrender attention to. It was mostly the power of invention and imagination – the two best aspects of childhood if you ask me. Eventually, I’d conjure something good enough to get out of my funk. In fact, my greatest schemes and misadventures seem to have came out of those lulls. The thought makes me wonder: in this age of easy preoccupation, do we undervalue boredom?
This is a guest post from Jack Yee. Jack’s Primal Blueprint Real Life Story “Free at 50” was published a few weeks ago here on Mark’s Daily Apple. In this article, Jack shares his four strategies for conquering intense workouts, and becoming both physically and mentally stronger as a result. Enter Jack…
When I first made the transition from conventional bodybuilding training to full body primal workouts, I quickly realized it was one of the best things I ever did. I used to look forward to doing the primal workout of the week or the contest WODs that were sent in by some of you. There was something so liberating about pounding a sledgehammer, crawling on grass, or throwing a stone and running as if I was being chased by a saber-tooth predator (all while being outside soaking in some much needed vitamin D). The primal workouts were fun, but very difficult to get through due to the high intensity that each workout demands. Many times, I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. As a result of this training – along with the Primal eating plan – I was able to get in the best shape of my life. But, something unexpected also changed in me; I became mentally tougher.
When was the last time you made a great meal? From-scratch prep, serious gratification result. This morning? Last week? Last month? Although I imagine Primal folks cook much more often than most non-Primal types, we all get caught up in the busyness of life. Eating – even healthy eating – often gets boiled down to convenience and strategy. I get it. Few of us have the luxury of basking in culinary ventures at every meal (myself included), but I do find real cooking to be an underappreciated indulgence – and there’s the rub.
As much as we focus on food and fitness as the “physical” arbiters of health and longevity, there appears to be much more to it. In fact, most research fails to find any grand commonalities in the diet and fitness patterns of the longest lived. From Okinawans with their sweet potatoes to Japanese centenarians with their dairy to the Ashkenazi with their higher rates of smoking, drinking, and lower rates of formal exercise to the 107 year old with her butter, no exercise, and mistrust of medicine to the supercentenarians with their liver, bacon, wine, chocolate, and eggs to the other supercentenarians with their caloric restriction. Sure, they’re generally not eating Twinkies and Panda Express, but the secret to longevity – at least as it’s practiced by living centenarians – does not lie in one specific diet.
Ontogeny – the 25¢ word of the day, but you’re living it right now. From a strict biological perspective, ontogeny refers to the physical development of an organism from embryo to adult form. In a broader context (and more to the point here), it refers to the comprehensive development (e.g. physical, social, cognitive, spiritual) of an individual throughout the life cycle. Paul Shepherd discusses broader ontogeny at length in his book Coming Home to the Pleistocene, explaining “Because of our evolutionary past and the extraordinary way life has shaped our mind and bodies, we are required by the genome to proceed along a path of roles, perceptions, performances, understandings, and needs, none of which is specifically detailed by the genome but must be presented by the culture.” In other words, the progressive structure is there, waiting for our cultures to fill in the details and direct us through the scene changes. Do they? Do they need to? What happened to the social constructs to support these basic life transitions? What happened to rites of passage?
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