Last week I kicked things off by saying it was time to make this 21-Day Challenge personal. In other words, I asked, what were you done with? What behaviors, conditions or trajectories were you ready to jettison to welcome a healthier, more vital life? I think it’s always critical to identify what isn’t working for us at any given time. When we’re clear on what doesn’t fit our intentions for our lives, we can cleanly let go and move forward.
That said, I don’t believe change itself comes from negative assessments, and I appreciated readers’ comments last week that affirmed the power of positive language. The fact is, when you come at anything in life from a mental place of lack – diminished self-esteem, low expectations, small thinking, little self-worth, fearful scarcity, poor confidence – you’re setting yourself up for a meager win if not outright failure. In that regard, it’s a question of efficacy. If you don’t see yourself as a cause worthy of investment, if you don’t believe in your inherent power, if you hedge your bets out of cynicism or anxiety, you’re cutting off your endeavor at the knees – right from the start.
And yet it’s also a matter of purpose.
We can and need on some level to discern what’s not working, but the journey itself isn’t about what’s lacking. When we view these 21 days (or any day) as a means to an end – a Challenge goal, a better race time, a lower weight, a better job, a new relationship, a healthier biomarker – no matter how good the intention we’re ultimately missing an opportunity – and maybe the central point.
The real point of taking the Challenge – however you’ve made it your own – is to live a better life. Maybe a longer life is part of the vision for some of you, but I’d venture to say a better life is the real underlying commonality. Living a awesome life – this is the chance available to you right now.
And there’s the critical factor – “right now.”
Put aside for a minute what you want the Challenge to “fix” or eliminate. What would it meant to live vitally in your body right now – as is? Yes, we’re ultimately working toward a deeper, more expansive vitality with all our efforts, but what if we made the choice to see the process less as a path of hard discipline and more a journey of self-valuing – and (dare I say) celebration?
Take a minute and look at your body with an eye for appreciation. Assess what it can do and what it’s seen you through. Look at your life from the angle of abundance. What is good? Your body isn’t the enemy here after all. Consider how amazing it is to walk and jump and lift your child or move all your belongings, to build and travel. Just as we can reframe and celebrate eating amazing healthy food and living an active life, we can reframe how we view the bodies we want to nurture into healthier, more vibrant being – because why wouldn’t we offer them such an adventure, why would we shortchange our bodies, ourselves, such an opportunity to live the fullest life possible?
Our bodies don’t need to be perfect to deserve this privilege just as our diet doesn’t need to be 100% Primal. The privilege is ours because we want it and take it – if we allow ourselves that pleasure. On the path to vitality, it’s less about noting what’s bad and doesn’t serve us anymore and more about – when we get those amazing glimpses into this level of experience – what’s great. Then we can unabashedly declare “More of THAT, please!” and subsequently live ourselves into that vision.
So, are the two perspectives of “What’s not working?” and “What can I celebrate right now?” mutually exclusive? I don’t think they are. For instance, being sick or significantly overweight are urgent matters that deserve our attention. That being said, it’s not about being shaken into seeing how “broken” we are physically, metabolically or psychologically. It’s not about reaching a level of self-disgust to be motivated to change.
It’s simply about saying, “This isn’t working for me anymore.” Last week’s post got at the “this” – the many forms “this” can take. What’s equally important to emphasize in the statement, however, is the phrase “for me.”
For me. For myself… (We’ll put aside the finer points of grammar for a moment.) What do I want for myself? What do I want to savor in this life for myself? What do I desire to take pleasure in, to bask in? What do I want to cultivate into being for myself?
Embracing vitality means not placating oneself with the way things are out of a misplaced sense of “accepting myself means accepting whatever is.” However, it also doesn’t oblige us to delay feeling reverence for the body, to defer reaching for euphoria and thrill, to postpone relishing one’s life.
It means beginning to live differently today.
So, for today I have a modest proposal. Take as you wish – and apply it to every day going forward in this Challenge. See this day as important as the final day of the Challenge. What you live and enjoy today is equally as important as the results you’ll measure on February 1. Seek out peak experiences. Indulge in healthy pleasures. Luxuriate in what is life-giving and nourishing. Committing to a healthy life entails committing to the full rewards and responsibilities. That day begins now.
Thanks for reading, everyone. What can you embrace today as a commitment to the rewards of a healthy, vigorous life?
Leave a comment in the comment board below and you’ll automatically be entered to win a Focal Upright “Mogo”. One winner will be selected at random. This contest expires today, Jan. 22, at 11:59 pm PST.
Focal Upright “Mogo”- You might recall my “leaning workstation” as seen in the How-to: Standup and Mobile Workstations video from last year, the Locus Seat from Focal. It’s sort of a human kickstand that allows me to alternate between leaning and standing. Leaning is kind of like sitting in that it takes the load off, just without shortening your hip flexors and turning your glutes into a amorphous gelatinous blobs. I love it.
If you liked the look of it and want something similar, you’ll love the Mogo. It’s also made by Focal, and it’s of a similar design and also allows you to lean and stand, but it’s less expensive and more mobile, weighing just over 2 pounds and collapsing for easy storage. That means you can take it along with you to the office, the cafe, the great outdoors (laptop on a stump, anyone?), or when you travel, and get strange looks and lots of questions while you get work done. Retail Value: $99.
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.