Friday, April 20, 2012
The Paleo Challenge and The Lessons
The Paleo Challenge.
It has just as many names as it does restrictions. From the Paelodiet to the Hunter-Gatherer Diet to the Caveman Diet, all of which I talked about in the feature podcast of CallMeArtist, I deemed the last few months: 'Six Weeks of Pure Fucking Discipline."
The Paelo Challenge, "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
When I initially began thinking about trying the challenge, I had many apprehensions because I knew I would no longer be able to eat the renowned LA gourmet burgers, go extremely crazy at the club in drunken stupors with all my friends and that I had to sleep a lot more in order to support my fitness schedule. Then I realized everything was temporary anyway so I thought: "what the hell, 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 would like something unless you first start by trying? If there is any regret at the end of your journey, I am sure you will look back and have them for the things you did not try or the things you did not say. Be encouraged, be strong and be willing to try new things.
We All Have Different Goals
When I first began telling 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 of course 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, unconditional or not, 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 goal and outlook on things, that which makes us all different.
I did not get mad at my friends for not supporting me, I simply just 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. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being different.
Steadfast to Your Personal Goals
“I didn't say it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it." While fighting for your goals, there will definitely be many times of hardship and struggle. Anything in life that is desired should be worth fighting for or working hard for. 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..but 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' of possible outcomes. Just do it and focus on your goals, while having fun.
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. Soon enough, the years will have passed and if you have done what you need to do, success will also accompany you. As long as you take care of the moments, life will take care of the years. Work hard, party hard.
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.
As some of my readers may know, one of my goals for the Year of 24 is to run a 6:30 mile or less, a task that a younger Alex would have definitely ran 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. If you are working hard, then it just as important to play hard. And trust me, it makes the partying that much more fun. To know that you have accomplished something great is something to be proud about. 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 and devotion.) If you feel you have earned something, reward yourself by speaking up.
Whatever it is, always remember to reward yourself. Just as life is about working hard and accomplishing your goals, it is also about having fun, bathing in the sun and long nights of partying.
There is sometimes nothing better than see-able progress. My entire life, I have struggled with my body-image and how others perceive me. Smart decision-making in moving to haute LA LA Land then, right? But it was not until recently that I began to realize that it should be more about how I view myself and how far I am willing to go to acquire a 'david-like' figure. A greater focus was put on the things that went 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 hot shower. I smiled because I realized that I was closer and closer to reaching my goals.
I smiled because it's just the beginning.
When you accomplish your goal and you look back smiling 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."
I know it's been a while since I have personally written any posts, but I hope you are encouraged. During the last six weeks of pure fucking discipline, my focus was me.
So how did I reward myself?
See picture below: