Although I haven’t read the book (Eat. Repent. Repeat.),it’s a concept we’re all familiar with. People eat something they know they shouldn’t, self-flagellate and run themselves ragged on the treadmill in penance, only to find themselves in the same boat a few days (or hours) later. Not much of a surprise on that one, is it? I’ll admit I’ve never understood this game, but I see it for the self-perpetuating cycle that it is: an endless rotation of escapism, guilt and punishment. Why do so many people insist upon this transgressive model of eating? And, why, for Pete’s sake, do they think raining retribution on themselves is any way to get back in the saddle?
We all know the drill. The unassuming soul is lured, tempted, flagrantly ensnared into eating complete crap by the siren song of whatever commercial, billboard, lunch buffet, coworker birthday, happy hour, grocery store end cap he/she encounters that day. How can free will possibly defend against such forces? “It’s not my fault,” he/she might say. “No one was there to tie me to the mast.”
What’s disturbing about this narrative isn’t the object of consumption itself but the cascade of misguided attitudes emanating from it. Eating isn’t rooted anymore in common sense but in a dualistic dogma of good and evil – complete with displaced culpability instead of personal responsibility. Progress isn’t measured by steady development of perspective but by histrionic bouts of self-submission. Hit the gym the day after a holiday, and too often the whole place reeks of self-reproach.
How is it that people don’t see the inanity of trying to “run off” a donut or whatever junk food they’ve succumbed to? In a spectacle of twisted rationalization, they isolate the “indiscretion,” tabulate its caloric damage (as if it’s only the calories that matter) and then impose the appropriate punishment/correction for the lapse. First, was the “treat” worth that sweaty hour on the stair climber? Second, is this punitive, self-destructive behavior any way to address the tendency to stray from one’s eating goals?
Instead, imagine a cycle that encourages owning your choices and always enjoying the fruits of those decisions. You’re rewarded at every turn with physical benefits, personal authority and intact self-respect. Visualize a positive feedback loop: eat well, rejoice in the effects, and then do it again (and again and again because you love what it does for you). That’s the beauty of the living Primally.
People too often get caught up in a mentality of deprivation. They think the power of “dieting” is denying yourself. Funny how the self gets in the way. (And, seriously, who hasn’t felt deprived on one of those low fat, low calorie regimens?) Living Primally, on the other hand, means bringing thoughtful and healthful intention to each choice. It means choosing fulfillment in a more comprehensive, connected sense. What foods give you the life you want? What foods leave you feeling good, fulfilled, healthy? What effects leaves you rejoicing (losing the extra weight, gaining strength, finding new energy, simply enjoying the taste and richness of your food)? All the while, the Primal Blueprint‘s 80/20 principle underscores the seamless power of your Primal lens and common sense perspective. Your Primal eating practices construct a healthy life (inside and out), leaving destructive attitudes in the past. You make the choices you do because they enhance your life, and the rewards are nothing short of inspiring. Check any guilt at the door. No penitence required here.
What’s your take on the invitation to “eat, rejoice and repeat”? Thanks for reading.
About the Author
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.