The path from eating the Standard American Diet to eating clean is seldom linear. It looks more like a roller coaster with several valleys and peaks and less like an inclined plane. If you’ve attempted to clean up your diet, then you likely understand what I’m describing.
If you think about the people in your life who are leaned out and eating right, you probably think of a strong, determined person. You know, not the type who is a push-over or someone who is easily talked out of their workout or their focused diet. You might even consider them to be a little crazy… I’m convinced they seem crazy because they’ve put a lot of hard work into getting where they’ve gotten. You know, not just doing things that are easy, but maybe tackling a few challenges that the average Joe would consider to be “hard”.
I have a handful of people who I coach on nutrition and cooking through phone, email and facetime. I really enjoy this work because I get to choose who I work with and I get to share stories from my journeys in fitness and nutrition. The reason that I am telling you this is because I’ve also owned a few CrossFit gyms in my career and I’ve come across a fair number of athletes who aren’t as fun to work with. I love them to death, but when it comes to the dedication it takes to clean up their diet, they often exclaim that it is “too hard”.
I agree, it is hard. I estimate, as seen above, that the transition takes as long as 5 years. In an effort to help people understand how cleaning up their diet might benefit them, I’ve put together a list of things that are harder than eating clean. Here it is…
- Feeling lethargic, bloated, lazy, depressed, tired, sick, weak, weak, weak because it’s hard to think about what you might eat for your next meal, or for your 3-5 meals tomorrow, or for all of your meals this week.
- Getting only half of the benefit of working out as hard as you do because it’s hard to eat clean, prepare properly and follow the roadmap to a rich life of energy, focus, and motivation.
- Juggling the “conventional wisdom” on nutrition and fitness for decades because it’s hard to read books, do research and actually think for yourself.
- Living for decades with that little pouch around your wasteline because it’s hard do a little research, some math, and a few tests to figure out how your body best burns fat.
- Resorting to fast food time and again because it’s hard to plan a menu, shop for groceries, cook, and wash dishes. Being lured in by the thought of how good it is going to taste and how easy it is going to be, but feeling dissapointed with the aftermath, the realization that you’ve done it again in your frenzy of ill-preparedness.
- Struggling through the 100,000 meals you’ll eat in your lifetime because it’s hard to cook, hard to learn on which foods your body functions best, and hard to prepare for the party we call life.
- Learning in your late 40s that you’ve got self induced metabolic derangement and you’re being prescribed 5 “wonder drugs” that will keep you alive, but just sick enough to rely on said drugs for the rest of your life.
Socrates quite possibly said it best when he lamented, “It is a shame for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
Or Hippocrates when he suggested, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Or, take CrossFit’s advice by realizing that “The Foundation Is Nutrition”, both in the gym and in life.
The gist of all of this is that humans struggling with eating habits is not a new conundrum. As long as there has been food aplenty, there have been gluttons. As we start into February of 2014, I want to encourage you to take a look at your life, your diet and your priorities and make decisions that are in line with your goals.
I also want to encourage you to cook and eat foods that you love. If life is a party and we’re all invited, then why would we choose to eat/bring lame food. I’ve created this site to teach you what I’ve learned about cooking, nutrition, fitness and life. And, while it is primarily a “learn to cook” site, the nutrition aspect is closely intertwined.
In the meantime, please listen to that mini Paleo Nick on your shoulder encouraging you to “Keep It Paleo!” when you are struggling with dining decisions. Reach for the mac nuts and give the peanut butter cups the cold shoulder!
“Keep It Paleo!” my friends. Be prepared and don’t be afraid to do what’s hard.
(Hanging here with my man, Shabir. Shabir is on a journey to see the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. He’s down over 150lbs and is a dear friend of mine who inspires me on a daily basis. Go Shabu!)