It has just as many names as it does restrictions.
From the Paleo Challenge to the Paleo Diet to the Hunter-Gatherer Diet to the Caveman Diet. Whatever it’s called, I have deemed the last few months: “Six Weeks of Pure F-cking Discipline.”
The Paleo Challenge is, according to Crossfit’s website, “centered on commonly available modern foods, the ‘contemporary’ Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and EXCLUDES all grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.”
So-to-speak, the challenge is meant for individuals to return to the most basic elements of eating and to find their inner-beasts. In addition, a focus on exercise and mental health is highly encouraged so I also gave up all alcoholic beverages and most of my worries for six weeks, while maintaining a fitness schedule of at least one hour of moderate to high-intensity exercise each day. So what did I learn?
At Least Try It
I had many apprehensions when I considered doing the Paleo challenge: I knew I would no longer be able to eat renowned LA gourmet burgers or go crazy at the club and I knew I had to sleep a lot more to support my fitness schedule. Then I realized everything was temporary anyway so I thought: “Why not at least give it a shot?” In life, there are many things that may shy us away from: trying a new food or a new activity, but how will you ever know if you’re going to like something unless you first start by trying? In the end, I don’t want to regret the things I did not try or the things I did not say. Be encouraged, be strong and be willing to try new things.
We All Have Different Goals
When I first told some of my friends about my desire to take on this challenge, one of the initial questions was: “So you’re not going to be drinking with us anymore?” And the answer was “No, at least not for a while.” I knew what I needed to do in order to accomplish my goals and cutting out alcohol was it. Met with many uncertainties and ‘aww-mans,’ I realized that friends will not always support every single goal that you may have. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just shows that everyone has a different outlook. I did not get mad at my friends for not supporting me, I simply said, “Respect my life and my decisions.” I think that’s something we should be doing for everyone. We were all born to find or create our own respective destinies, and we will accomplish this by having different goals, thus different journeys.
Stay Steadfast to Your Personal Goals
While fighting for your goals, there will definitely be many times of hardship and struggle. If you want to become the best saxophonist in history, then it’s time for you to start dedicating the time towards it. If you would like to become a Sommelier, then maybe it’s time for you to starting reading up on your wines. For this diet, don’t forget to also get your butt into the gym. Whatever you want to do, just do it — don’t think so much about the what-ifs or possible outcomes. Just do it and focus on your goals.
Enjoy What’s in Front of You
Growing up as fat kid, I was always disciplined for asking “What’s for dessert?” when I still had a full plate of food sitting right in front of me. I always looked for what was coming next instead of enjoying what was right in front of me. This can be likened to what many of my peers and I are currently going through: the ‘entitled-generation’ — we want success now. We want the Bentleys Coupes and Audis without putting in the hard work. We want dessert before we are even satisfied with dinner.
Of course, I am not saying that some of my peers do not deserve the finer things they may currently have in life. Perhaps you come from a trust fund, perhaps you just won the lottery (I sure wish I did a few weeks ago), or perhaps you are a budding young entrepreneur and you are earning success at a very young age. But perhaps you don’t. How will you get there? By enjoying what’s in front of you right now. The people you meet on a daily basis: connect with them. The books you enjoy reading: connect with them. The hours you put into running: connect with them. Whatever you are doing, connect with the moment and give it your all. As long as you take care of the moments, life will take care of the years.
Simply, take your butt to the gym. There is nothing better than being able to breathe in and out without any disruption and to know that energy is your friend. When you begin eating right and exercising, life becomes so much better because your mental health is also strengthened. Drink water because it increases your metabolism, steam your veggies because they are packed with antioxidants and move your body simply because you are blessed to have working limbs and digits. That’s a blessing.
One of my goals is to run a 6:30 mile or less, a task that a younger Alex would have definitely ran — at least — away from. Today, I am still not there, but I am close. I realized that whether it is fitness, hard work, doubt or confidence — it’s all in the mind. Each day I get on that treadmill or the terrain, I prepare myself mentally to overcome my body’s weaknesses. It is through strength-training that we become stronger. It is through experience that we become wiser. It is through pushing ourselves that we see just how far our minds, our bodies and our creativity can go.
At the end of the challenge, at the end of the race, at the end of the test, at the end of the journey: reward yourself. To know that you have accomplished something great is something to be proud of. If you gave up alcohol, feel free to have a few glasses of your favorite red wine. If you worked out everyday for the last two months, feel free to take a day off and not do a single thing (even though I am sure that would not be possible due to your new-found energy). If you feel you have earned something, reward yourself by speaking up.
There is sometimes nothing better than see-able progress. My entire life, I have struggled with my body-image and how others perceive me. But it was not until recently that I began to realize that it should be more about how I view myself. I started to focus more on what I was putting into my body. No wonder I always had a muffin-top; I was eating freaking high calorie chocolate chip muffins one minute and drinking alcohol the next. What we put into something is generally what is also yielded. So I began to focus on what I was putting into my body, into my hours at the gym and into my mind. I began to kill the cravings for pizza and noticed that I began to smile a lot more as I looked into the mirror after a shower.
When you accomplish your goal and you look back on all the connections you have made, the experience you have gained and the wisdom you have received — keep going, give back and “always keep moving forward, opening new doors and trying new things because curiosity will always lead you down a new path.”
Because of the pure discipline of the last six weeks, my focus was on bettering me.
Title image credit: flickr
This article also appears on Thoughtcatalog from April 28, 2012 and is published here with the permission of the author
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