Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
29 Sep

Winging It: Fun, Spontaneity and Intuition in Your Primal Life

We’re well into the third week of the Challenge, and I’m thinking these days about fun. Yes, fun – the pure amusement, pleasure, and self-indulgence of it. Did Tuesday’s active entertainment post tip you off? A challenge, of course, implies goals, structure, progress, and the associated measurements of these. While indispensable, I get a little bored with them from time to time. Hands? Why can’t a healthy lifestyle be about fun and spontaneity? Why can’t it be about enjoying life rather than parsing it out in pre-approved steps? Oh, wait. It can.

It’s a simple but vital dimension of the Primal Blueprint – the concept of the journey itself. Yes, many of us have particular “highlights” we’d like to hit, but there’s plenty to savor along the way. Living the PB, after all, is about living “whole,” living fully – or at least relishing the attempt anyway. The heart of the PB of course isn’t the diet itself or the exercise or the sleep. Sure, these are all essential components, but there’s something bigger, more expansive, more ambitious and radical at the core.

The Primal Blueprint is a broader reclaiming of our evolutionary model – as much of it as makes good and useful sense – and molding it to promote better health and contentment in our lives today. While we have a lot to learn from our ancestors’ diet and movement, we can learn something from their overall approach to life. For example, I don’t imagine Grok carrying around an anti-stress checklist or putting a reminder on his smartphone to “play” at 5:30 today. I don’t envision him logging onto his FitDay profile multiple times in an afternoon or counting his lunges and burpees.

Are all of these modern tools great? Can they be immensely helpful and make healthy living (particularly a Primal transition) easier? Absolutely. I’m not out to knock them today. (I use them myself after all.) My thought today is simply this: taking a day to wing it.

In committing to the Primal Blueprint Challenge, most folks are naturally focused on results. They’re out to lose those ten pounds. They hope to improve some ominous lab numbers. They want to lift more, run longer, or push harder. Go for it. I hope you’re well on your way toward that goal, but I wonder if this point in the Challenge opens up another possibility. How about taking a respite from the mechanics of the process? How about releasing our attachment to any goal itself?

What would it mean, for example, if you didn’t keep track of anything today? No lists, no FitDay, no schedule (for Challenge related pursuits), no menu? I’m not talking about chucking the inclination toward healthy, Primally minded choices. I mean putting aside for a day (or more) the self-designed, individually imposed plans. Surrender some of the energy that goes into that structure. Turn your focus from any eventual goal to what Primal living can offer in this moment.

Think about your day today – or tomorrow – or the weekend (or better yet all of the above). What can be thrown out to make room for playing it by ear? What could a day look like in which you took every possible moment (excluding work and basic family care) to just do whatever felt energizing, even life giving in the moment? Accept the irony for a second. Sure, we’re talking about setting a vision for spontaneity, but too many of us forget, I think, what innumerable and incredible possibilities are even available.

I’m talking here about both unstructured activity and inspired diversions. How about skipping your scheduled gym workout and playing instead. Climb trees. Lift every large planter or stone lion you see lining the street. (And be prepared to sprint when the owners see you.) Play sack of potatoes with your kids. Set up an obstacle course for you and your dog. Go out dancing. Run the length of your local football field screaming chants for yourself.

Whatever you’d planned on eating tonight? Make a real, bonafide dining experience of it. (No eating over the kitchen sink.) Maybe it can be a picnic or campfire event. On the other end of things, maybe it could be a candlelit table setting with wine and music or a boisterous meal with friends that runs into the night and earns you a noise ordinance notice from the condo co-op board.

Put aside your stress management routine for a night and forget about managing anything while you soak in the bathtub. Play spa night on yourself (menfolk too). Or forget your own problems by offering hugs to passers-by or by sitting on a random street corner with an “Advice: 5¢” sign displayed.

Forget the strategic sunlight outdoor time allotment, and go for broke. Sleep outside. Eat outside. Wash your dishes outside. Wash yourself outside. Sit outside at eleven at night just because. Heck, bring your furniture outside and set up your living room in the backyard. (Thoreau did it.)

Whatever you do, don’t keep track of anything that doesn’t need your immediate attention for secured livelihood or survival (e.g. small children). Live the day as off the charts, off the grid, and off center as you can. Go big and bold – or not. Lay in the grass and do nothing but watch the trees and nap. Whatever. For the purpose of this experiment, think purposeless and all-consuming. Wherever the moment brings you. Go beyond spontaneous and push the boundaries of your impulsivity.

Why do I say this? A few reasons actually. I’m not trying to throw all the type As and competitive freaks out there into a mental tailspin. (Yes, I am both of those myself.) In a challenge kind of setting particularly, we can become too attached to the goal, too caught up in the outcome. Not only is this kind of limited focus unsustainable for most people, it’s frankly unsatisfying. The Primal Blueprint aims to be gratifying in both its end results and everyday journey – wild in many ways, indulgent at turns, vitalizing in no uncertain terms. If we get too zeroed in on the end result, we run the risk of missing out on some of the deepest rewards of the Primal experience.

Finally, the PB is a scaffolding more than structure, a principle instead of program. Ultimately, each person must make it his/her own. It’s a grounded but loose design that looks and feels different when shaped to each individual’s life. Though we can get a jump start by following a laid out formula, we eventually have to internalize and personalize it. I call it the Primal lens – the ability to judge and select from the choices of our environment with the context of general Primal principles. It’s about letting go of the map and feeling your bearings – best done in a wider scope and wilder state.

How will you go unstructured and unfettered? Let me know your thoughts on winging it Primal style. Have a great end to the week, everyone!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. all the people who think this “unplanned,unstructured,forget-the-errads” idea is so great obviously dont have kids AND housework, AND job AND school….if you dont plan when to do things, and who will drive the carpool, and cook/plan meals in advance, IT DOES NOT WORK my friends! Most peopl dont have this much going on in their lives, but anyone who does KNOWS that each day has to be organized in advance. One day a week is for resting…which means hanging out with the kids (if you call that resting). But I chose this, so its my headache. But anyone who has responsiblities for a family and wants to do other things, cant “let go” and forget the grocery shopping to hike for 2 hours.

    Hopeless Dreamer wrote on October 1st, 2011
    • It is definitely a challenge to go “off the grid” when one has a young family. There are times when it seems that every moment is scheduled. My husband and I have found that jumping on this Primal Path has been fantastic for both of us AND the kids. He and I forced ourselves to ditch Friday’s list of have-to-do’s and went for broke while the kids were in school…three hours of surf-paddling bliss! We needed it more than we realized, and were far better for it. The list was still there when we got home, but was much more approachable with a free mind. If we can jump off the grid, most anyone can!

      Joanna wrote on October 2nd, 2011
  2. In reply to “Arty”…I am sorry you seem to have so much trouble. I do agree however, that younger people, no matter what kind of childhood they had, have their whole life to enjoy, and often dont have the responsibility ad “baggage” that comes with more years. The “if only I did this back then” doesnt help, but it would be nice to have youth and the time and energy that youth implies to do stuff.

    Hopeless Dreamer wrote on October 1st, 2011
  3. Well I decided to be spontaneous and JOIN my daughter on the playground instead of just watching. It was good times, swinging on the monkey bars, the rock climbing wall. About ten minutes in I stood up to fast chasing her up the stairs to the big slide and whacked the top of my head into the roof of the damn thing and totally thought I crushed my neck. So that ended that. And I’m still paying for it 2 days later. I think I’ll play it safe from now on. :(

    Kia wrote on October 3rd, 2011
  4. Yes! Laying sans clothing on warm, bare rock, the sun and breeze on bare skin, just communing with Nature, watching the crows circling overhead…just in the moment…like a meditation. Connected to the earth. These are the elemental moments of aliveness!

    MyrrMade wrote on October 6th, 2012

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