The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
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
Last month, I wrote a couple articles on akrasia, or the phenomenon of acting against one’s own better judgment. First, I introduced the concept and described a bit of research surrounding it. Then, I discussed 8 reasons a Primal eater might suffer from food-related akrasia, including cravings, nutritional deficiencies, and mismatched Paleolithic genes trying to navigate a modern food environment.
Today, I’m restarting the discussion with a list of novel tools and techniques to help in the fight against fitness-and-health-related akrasia. As I mentioned in the first post, akrasia is universal, transcending culture and age and dietary persuasion. Whether we like it or not, we don’t always do what we know we should – myself included – so this post is for all of us.
Here are twelve online tools that will give you that little nudge you need to stay on track and do what’s best for yourself:
Last week’s retreat post inspired a lot of people to share something about the escapes they enjoy but also something about why. The post’s focus on solitary retreats, in particular, seemed to steer discussion. Frankly, when I suggested the solo venture, I mostly had in mind self determination – the opportunity to concentrate on one’s individual needs without the inevitable compromises and inherent expectations that come into play when traveling with others. Several readers, however, opened up a broader theme in their comments. Self knowledge, they suggested, is essential in figuring out what’s optional and not optional to our individual well-being. There’s power – and sometimes conflict – in knowing yourself and letting that understanding help guide your life.
I’m not talking here about the two-day relocation of everyone in the office. I don’t mean the family vacay, enjoyable but fraught with chaos as it often is. I don’t mean a couple’s getaway, (which of course has its own unique benefits). And as much as I look forward to PrimalCon and encourage everyone to join us in April, I don’t even mean that kind of event. I’m talking about a different kind of retreat here, specifically the personal retreat, that solo venture in which one gets away on his/her own with no responsibilities but ample quiet and/or adventure. For some people this might mean a week in the wilderness. For others, it’s a few days at the spa or a meditation center. It might be the chance to enjoy anonymity playing tourist in a large city or to try out an alternative occupation for a week. It could be a solo road trip through a stretch of open country. Or maybe it’s something else entirely.
Questions: where were you at dinnertime last night? What did you eat? Was anyone else with you? Did you do anything else during the meal besides eat? How did your food taste? Did you enjoy your food? What did you think about as you ate? What mood were you in when you came to the table? When did you decide you were done eating? How did you feel after the meal? Some days we may be able to answer all of these questions. Other days not so much.
The truth is, there are days that we’re lucky to sneak in a meal at all. Children, meetings, travel, overtime, activities all mean we’re running from one thing to the next. Eating can be an afterthought – a chore inserted when possible and usually in tandem with at least one other activity. Even on the days when we sit down to a set table, we’re not assured a peaceful meal. The phone rings. UPS delivers a package. (Yes, aren’t you always the last house?) Little Suzy has a meltdown. Junior is feeding the dog from the table. There are multiple trips back to the kitchen for whatever was forgotten and a dozen or so fragmented conversations. If we’re eating alone, there are other kinds of distractions. Do we even bother sitting at the table? How about checking email or Facebook? A new magazine came today. Maybe I’ll just leaf through it while I have the chance. Whatever the case, the food itself quickly recedes into a mental background. The fork reaches our mouth. Maybe a taste registers, but we’ll have little recollection of the meal by the time our dishes reach the sink.
Anyone who’s spent significant time creating with their hands – whether it be painting, carpentry, knitting, carving, building – can appreciate the distinctive satisfaction it evokes. (I’m using the term broadly.) Handicraft, as wide a spectrum as it can encompass, isn’t about routine chores or fix-its. There’s a difference between grudgingly doing your own home repairs to save money and savoring the experience of meticulously renovating your own home. It’s about the love of the craft on some level. Not everyone would put it in those specific terms, but the people I know who practice handicraft acknowledge they’re drawn to what they do on some subconscious level. Picking up a familiar tool feels comfortable, even calming. The balance of its weight in your hand feels sure. Spending an hour at one’s own workspace (e.g. basement studio, garage workbench), however plain or disheveled, feels like time in a secluded oasis. It’s in the craft that you find focus – flow even. The brush or needles, chisel or knife, spade or hammer become an unconscious extension of self. The mind devises, but the hand itself thinks, designs, knows. In its fullness, we lose ourselves in the full physical experience of craft – in the sensory nuances, in the emotional associations, in the intuitive energy. I’d venture we’re the happier and healthier for these endeavors.
We all make poor choices against our better judgment. It’s kind of what makes us human – the tendency to actively and willfully make decisions that will result in unfavorable outcomes. Sure, the candy bar tastes good, but you know you’ll feel awful after eating it. Yeah, that blog is fun to read, but you know you’d be much happier if you finished that essay for class first. And yet five minutes later, a candy bar wrapper sits, emptied of its contents; your molars house fragments of nougat and sport a caramel sheen; light nausea approaches; and you find yourself wading knee deep through comment sections, MS Word window minimized. What just happened? Why did you do those things that you told yourself you wouldn’t, that you warned yourself against, and whose negative ramifications are already coming to fruition – just as you predicted?