Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
It’s inevitable at some point. Beyond the safe and sympathetic community of MDA and other like-minded cadres, we move through the rest of the world on a day to day basis. It’s likely we even stick out at times. Some of us go barefoot when/where it’s socially unacceptable. Some of us (not me, thank you very much!) sleep on the floor. A few of us have squatting toilet accessories in our bathrooms. A number of us have assembled small CrossFit style gyms in our cubicles. Others store an astounding supply of lard or homemade jerky in our homes. We tend to skip the bread course in a restaurant – perhaps the most controversial of all choices…. When people notice what we’re eating or not eating, how we’re exercising, when and where we’re sleeping, they might begin to wonder (especially if we’re wearing a “live long, drop dead” t-shirt). When they begin to wonder, they often want to ask. Many do. Some, scandalized or seized by concern, may caution, direct or cajole. Sometimes they mean well. Sometimes they’re just mean. How do we deal with the naysayers in our lives? Who are these people, and how do our responses vary given our relationships? Think for a minute. Then sit back with your Primal egg coffee and entertain these possibilities.
You love them. They love you. You disagree on some basic lifestyle issues like whether it’s healthy to eat 450 grams of carbs every day. The disagreement itself isn’t the issue. Emotion says worry for the people you care about. Wisdom says let go of what you can’t control. What happens, however, when they’re the ones who won’t let it go and the old “live, let live” mantra doesn’t keep the peace? If your nearest and dearest are your biggest naysayers, consider the following.
Double dog dare them to try a 30-day Challenge.
Yup. Go big or go home. This can work with the big personalities in your family or maybe your partner (if he/she relishes a good competition). Their diet against yours for whatever poundage, performance or medical measurements you want. I know a husband and wife team who did it this way and upped the ante. The Primal guy asked for a large screen T.V. as his prize. His wife, a CW-advocate, asked for a trip to New York. Let’s just say the guy will be enjoying fall football on the big screen, and his wife has a new appreciation for lower carb living. (Happy ending: they’re also planning a conciliatory trip to NYC this fall.)
Tell your success/success-in-the-making story.
Sure, you can show them the numbers from all your latest blood tests, weigh-ins, and workout routines. What matters the most to the people who love us best, however, is our happiness. Put aside logic and reasoning. Tell them what living Primal means to you – the same way you would tell the MDA community. Whether you’ve made significant strides or are just beginning, open up and let them know the motivation you have to make this happen and the good you’ve experienced. Ask for support and let them know the naysaying is raining on your Primal parade. Get them involved. Put a before photo up and ask them to take updated ones along the way or otherwise help you keep track of your progress. They still may cringe at the Brussel sprouts in bacon fat, but they’ll love the chance to bond.
Of course it depends on the kinds of friends. Truth be told, I don’t believe we owe acquaintances much justification, and they generally don’t expect much. Any arguments are less about your well-being and more about being right. As they say, you don’t have to participate in every argument you’re invited to. That said, for closer friends (the ones who really are motivated to care about your health and happiness), I think the answer is often one part “caring detachment” and one part casual suggestion.
Accept (and share) that it’s not your job to convince them.
You’re not blowing someone off when you draw a healthy boundary that will keep your relationship focused on what matters – for the relationship. You won’t judge them, and you ask them to not judge you. Friendship is based on a respect for each other’s space and choices as much as it is on commonalities you share. Sometimes it really can be that easy. Most of what we think is our business in life isn’t our business, and everyone’s happier for that.
Share the fun stuff.
Sidestep the justifications, and just share the stuff that makes for good conversation (and understanding). How about making a meal for your buddies, or showing off your Primal Cravings cookbook? Keep the peace – and the fun.
While we can tune out other “experts” in our lives if we so choose, it’s a little trickier when we’re sitting in our doctor’s office stuck on the paper sheet in the ugly gown. We feel like, well, a subject. We might come armed and ready to share our latest Primal successes, but in the time it takes for the nurse to do our vitals, we can lose all sense of agency. I think the key is to first let go of the need to be on the defensive and think about the larger purpose and benefits of the relationship.
Deal in numbers.
Accept that you’re coming at healthy living from a different vantage point. It’s really okay. Just because you’ve adopted various ancestral health practices doesn’t mean you should feel banished from all modern medical care. You deserve to be there. You can benefit from being there. When differing philosophies get in the way, get back to the numbers themselves. They tell a story – a large part of your story. That said, know the numbers you should prioritize. Bond over lab sheets. Talk technical stuff where it’s relevant.
Recast the relationship.
I know a lot of people who, if they can’t find a Primal friendly doctor, will mentally recast their relationship with their health care provider. Use him/her as a resource for certain information and as a means to access certain services. It’s okay to depersonalize it that way. Health care is a commodity. There’s nothing inherently wrong with taking a consumer based view of it. Make the relationship work for you, and do the rest of your Primal work elsewhere.
Finally, sometimes we might find ourselves caught in our own web of naysaying – especially if we’re at the beginning of the journey. Understand that doubt isn’t a weakness. Recognize it instead of resisting it. Take it apart to appreciate it. My advice?
Accept it as part of the journey.
Living Primally doesn’t just happen. It unfolds. It comes together and unravels here and there and takes a new and better shape and then proceeds to the same hundreds of times over. That’s the work of any meaningful change in life.
That goes for learning about Primal living and your own physiology. In my experience, truth feels right before you end up finding the right words for it. Be your own experiment. Question, explore, test, try. Don’t ever stop learning and trying.
Thanks for reading today, everyone! How have you learned to respond to naysayers in your life? Have they learned to back off over time? Have you actually moved away from certain relationships?