It’s a new year, which means a litany of individuals who are starting new diets, getting back into the gym, trying to upgrade their lifestyle and inevitably showing up on internet forums or blogs. They set out of the best of intentions, ready to never revert to a lifestyle that is an extension of their entire existence, and of course they fail. They have setbacks, they fall off the wagon, and really rip themselves a new one. They’re failures, terrible human beings, worthless, etc. What a load of bollocks.The amount of guilt built into forum comments that resemble something like, “I was doing paleo well for 2 weeks, and then I had some cake and then I binged on crackers and gummy bears. I feel like such a failure!” I read into this multiple ways:
People will buy into the paradigm that human beings are “supposed*” to eat a certain way as determined by nature.
These same people ignore, intentionally or otherwise, that behavior is just as ingrained into us and more active on a daily basis in determining our life.
- Diets don’t work like drugs; they can have drug-like effects, but have nothing near the speed of effect that drugs do**.
*Nature intends nothing.
**Unless you have an allergy or intolerance.
This is a process of trajectory. Once you start to make changes toward a better path, you will stumble and have setbacks. Think about a positive stock trajectory with numerous ups and downs along a positive shift. In a perfect world, one which you can sustain, this is the best case scenario. In point of fact, here’s how I started and have progressed over the past 10 years.
- During my teens, I’d spend Saturday mornings watching infomercials (really) while eating fruit roll ups and entire tubs of cream cheese with pretzel sticks. I weighed 160lbs at 6′+.
- I started eating more and really weight training at the age of 18. I gained muscle and, because I had been skinny-fat, I kept eating like I couldn’t gain fat. I was wrong. I gained weight and, at the age of 20, I weighed 207lbs at 6’3″. I had a 37″ waist.
- I started counting calories using a zone-like 30/40/30 split and lost 25lbs in 12 weeks, whittling down to a 32″ waist.
- Weight rebounded slightly and I maintained in the neighborhood of 188lbs for over a year.
- After moving to Austin and not knowing anyone, I ate my way up to 219lbs. More muscle, but a lot of fat, as I had a 36″ waist at the time.
- I lost 18lbs in 1 month’s time using a variation of a protein sparing modified fast. Felt semi athletic again and not obese. 33″ waist at the time. Eventually I dropped back toward the 188lb level I previously maintained without drama.
- During my mother’s illness and post-death, I lost weight down to the tune of 175lbs at 6’3″. I reached this during this past October. I had a 31+” waist and a 7-site caliper measurement of 8% bodyfat.
- As I type this, I eat 90% paleo and weight 180lbs with more muscle and less fat than had before. I handle sprouted grains fine and eat pizza every week, I just prefer steak and cream (not together of course).
So what’s the point of my pontification? It’s not enough to know the answer, you have to do the math. If you don’t go through the ups and downs, learning along the way, you’ll never learn exactly what works for you. It’s important to start with a map but realize the map that works perfectly for you and your lifestyle hasn’t been discovered yet. That is your responsibility. Some might think it’s a lot of work but I think it’s pretty rad to learn intimately about your body and its tolerances. Pay attention, take it slow, don’t be in such a hurry…it’s that simple.