Well, the apocalypse never came. No earth-rending seismic activity rearranged geography. Nary a tsunami wrought despair and destruction on coastlines, nor did the turn of the calendar awaken an ancient, many-tentacled evil force hidden deep below. We experienced neither a global awakening of consciousness, a visit from the original extraterrestrial architects of our physiology, nor an explosion of eschatological novelty. What that means is two things: the prophets of 2012 got it wrong, and you have to plan for the rest of your life.
Let’s start with 2013. How are you going to make sure it’s a successful year? What steps will you take?
I’ve got a few suggestions. This may seem a bit untimely coming on the heels of Christmas Day, but I wanted to encourage you to start thinking about where you’ve been and where you’re going. Whenever you have some time off from family and friends, consider getting some thinking done. Consider taking a few preliminary steps toward making 2013 a good year.
It takes a minute. It’s free. It will have a measurable impact on the quality and duration of your sleep, which will set the stage for health and productivity. There’s literally no reason not to install F.lux (even if you’re going to be photo-editing or something that requires the full spectrum, you can always turn the program off for a bit).
F.lux is great, but it only works on select electronic devices. What about everything else, like the TV, that light overhead, or (if you’re willing to look a little strange) the grocery store after dark? Glasses that block blue light will help you to go about your business in this modern life without pushing back your melatonin secretion, allowing you to get to bed at a reasonable time.
Grass-fed beef makes a big difference. It really does. And yes, it’s generally more expensive than grain-fed beef, but if you find the right local supplier and buy directly from them, you can get a better deal.
If you’re going to switch to grass-fed beef and want the best deal you can find, you’ll want a chest freezer to enable bulk buying (or even cowpooling). You’ll save money and have steady access to good meat, but it’s also fun to weird out visitors with your giant meat locker. Bonus points if you position a sheep’s head such that it’s looking right into the eyes of whoever opens the door.
A journal gives you access to a free, unlicensed (but effective) therapist, and it allows you to conduct real n=1 experiments to figure out what works for you – and why. If you want to make any changes in the new year, a journal will help you make sense of them.
Part of having a successful year is focusing on the mind – not just the body. I love reading and find books to be a quite powerful influence on the mind. If you think you’re in the same boat, go grab a library card – they’re usually free and woefully underutilized – so that you can start the influencing off right.
So you’ve long told yourself that you’re going to “start shopping at farmers markets more,” but it never really materializes. That stops in 2013. To help your chances, compile a list of all the local farmers markets. Figure out where they are, when they run, and which ones fit into your schedule. You won’t be able to avoid going if you can’t make up a ridiculous excuse like “I don’t even know when it is!”
A good knife, a well-made wooden cutting board, and a solid enameled cast iron pot don’t just make cooking good food easier, they make it more enjoyable. If you want to start cooking more but haven’t been able to really get going, the first step is to get cookware that’s worthy of the food you’ll be making.
Asian markets are teeming with interesting, delicious, nutritious, unique (at least to many people) foods. Want fresh (often living) fish and shellfish? Check out the seafood section. Want twenty different kinds of leafy greens? Check out the produce section. Want that spice or herb whose health benefits you read about on some blog somewhere? Check out the spice section. Having an Asian market nearby will be a helpful ally in the coming year.
If you’re lucky enough to have a seafood wholesaler near you, take advantage. You’ll be able to get oysters, crab, fish, and other sorts of sea creatures almost directly after they’re caught/harvested without the few days of lag time that can make a huge difference. Seafood is a big part of a healthy Primal eating plan, so be sure to have a good source.
Blogs and Facebook and Twitter aren’t enough for us. We are social animals, after all, who need face to face contact. If your friends think you’re insane for eschewing grains and buying bulk butter, check out Meetup.com for relevant groups (paleo, Primal, hiking, weightlifting, camping, etc.) and then go join them.
Write the first paragraph in which you give your background, your experience hitherto, your justification for wanting to do it all better. Then, finish the story in 2013 – and make it a good one.
I prefer working out in nature, preferably doing something I love like Ultimate Frisbee or stand up paddleboarding, but not everyone’s like that. A lot of people need the gym atmosphere – not to mention the equipment – to get a good workout. Plus, paying money for something will often get you to use it. Sure, a lot of gyms fill up around New Year’s with temporary fitness buffs, only to empty out around the middle of February, but I think MDA readers are a different sort. And hey, I still go to a gym to do certain things; it’s just not my favorite way to exercise.
Some people need to join a gym in order to get a workout, but others find home gyms work best. If you’re of the latter group, Craigslist is a fantastic place to get great deals on quality equipment. Try searches like “barbell” or “kettlebell” or “weight vest” or “squat rack” or any other equipment you covet.
You know you “need to play more,” but how? You can’t just head down to the local park as a grown adult and join a random game of tag with a bunch of other adults out playing. See, until we reach critical mass and get most adults out there ready and willing to play, you’re gonna have to search out play-willing adults. Find some adult sports leagues for the coming year to help you play more in 2013. If you’re a ten-year old reading this, enjoy your ample supply of willing peers (cause it won’t last forever).
That half-eaten avocado with a spoon still sticking in it from last week? Toss it. The container of Greek yogurt you left cracked open so that part of the top layer crusted over? Get rid of it. That congealed red hemoglobin slick from the time you thawed a roast and never cleaned it up? Clean it. Get rid of all the old greens, rearrange the inefficient jumble of containers, and clear out the freezer to make way for all the fantastic food you’re going to be eating, making, and storing in 2013.
I know most of you aren’t doing this regularly. If you haven’t gotten your knives sharpened recently and you aren’t one to maintain them yourself, take them to get professionally sharpened. It will make a huge difference, and cutting meat and slicing veggies and fruits will become a pleasurable act.
Go for a long hike, take a weekend trip out in the woods, camp on the beach, rent a cabin. Just spend an extended amount of time away from civilization, deep in wild nature. Think about your big plans for 2013, or just use the time to do nothing but experience nature (perhaps with a spiritual encounter or two) and get away from it all. Whatever you do, it will help you prepare for a successful 2013.
Indulge in the pleasures of social contact. Indulge in good company. Indulge in a little bit of good wine, too, for these can all be net healthful activities. But don’t indulge to the point of obliteration. Don’t wake up on January 1 feeling like death. Be sensible, take precautionary measures, and be ready to take on the new year.
My new book is coming out on January 8th, and if you enjoyed or gained something useful from The Primal Blueprint, you’ll want its sequel – The Primal Connection. I wrote the sequel because while the ancestral model has been used to great effect in the realm of diet and exercise, its potential to guide us to a fulfilling and balanced life has gone largely untapped. That changes with The Primal Connection. Though they play a large role in our health and happiness, we are not the food we eat nor the weights we lift; we are much, much more than that.
In addition to The Primal Connection, I’ve got several new ventures, products, and services on the docket for the upcoming year – so stay tuned! I have a strong feeling that 2013 is going to be a successful year for a lot of you.
Thanks for reading, and share what you’ll be doing to prepare for a successful 2013 in the comment board below!