with Adam Farrah and Britta Aragon
It was a Tuesday night, late evening, and I was reading Paleo Magazine. (For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been following a Paleo diet for the last year since I started working with Dr. Lipman. More to come on that.)
As I was reading, I had one of those moments. You know those ones where you feel like everything you’re reading-every word, every sentence-is speaking directly to you?
I was immersed in an article by Adam Farrah, founder of “Practical Paleolithic” and author of The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link. It was titled, “My Sport is Living Well.” As I read about his experiences overcoming his own health challenges, I felt he and I had gone through the exact same thing.
I was so touched I decided to reach out and chat with Adam about his article and where he was going in life. Turns out that we ended up speaking on August 7, 2013, the sixth anniversary of my father’s passing. (Talk about an interesting coincidence!) Usually I don’t work on that day, but I knew we were going to have a pivotal conversation, and I was right.
We covered so much in our short time together that I can’t fit it all into this post, so I plan to produce a series on this topic-living well-because I believe it’s so important to all of us. After all, that’s what we’re all trying to do, right? Live our best lives possible. So I wanted to include all of you guys in this conversation-I hope you’ll pitch in with your thoughts!
We’re going to start this time with something I feel is so important to our own self-healing, and to others that we touch along the way-being real about the struggle. I would go so far as to say that all of us struggle to live our best lives, and it’s when we’re real about that struggle, and courageous enough to stand up and share our true stories, that we experience the greatest changes in ourselves, and have the largest impact on others.
Two Similar Stories
Everybody who’s wanted to feel more energy, lose weight, ease digestive problems, recover from illness, or simply improve their day-to-day lives, has endured struggles. We just can’t improve anything in our lives without overcoming some challenges.
“Last year,” Adam writes in his article, “I realized that I’ve always had a sport. I just didn’t know it before. I’ve been competing with myself, and the reward is self-mastery and the life I’ve been working toward since I first envisioned it in 2007.”
Adam is no stranger to struggle and challenge. What makes him such a great inspiration for others is that he’s real about where he’s been. On his website, he says he was extremely sick with ulcerative colitis in 2004: “I was nearly dead several times during that period.”
If you’re unfamiliar with ulcerative colitis, it’s an inflammatory bowel disease that causes a number of difficult symptoms. Yet after years of suffering, when he changed his diet, a new momentum began to build for Adam. “I quit jobs and ended relationships,” he says. One change led to another, and gradually, Adam’s health and life began to improve. But he’s the first one to say that it wasn’t easy.
As I read Adam’s story, I saw so many parallels with my own. We both found healing by learning to overcome our struggles and move on to find our life’s purpose. And sharing the nitty gritty of what we went through-which is often difficult-became part of fulfilling that purpose.
“The more personal, the more universal,” Adam told me. I think that’s so true, as many of us tend to think these personal trials we go through should be hidden from the world. It’s when we are brave enough to talk about them, however, that we find the most universal impact on other people.
We talked about Facebook, and how in a way, this popular modern forum has allowed us all to hide behind an illusion of who we really are. We post what we want others to see, and we fashion an image that we believe will be accepted, leaving the rest untold. Sharing the hard, quiet, private work, is usually not that popular, but it’s what most people are hungry to hear about.
Exposing yourself, being raw, and being honest, takes a lot of courage. But once we get over the fear, we give others permission to do the same, and what a gift that is! You know how you feel when a friend shares her struggles with you? How she doesn’t feel very attractive lately, or she doubts her talents on the job, or she’s not sure she is a very good mother. These admissions break down barriers between us. Receiving support when we’re in that place provides inner healing, and allows us to feel that even though we are struggling, it’s okay-it’s part of being human.
Realizing that gives us renewed strength to try again.
Sharing the Truth
My journey has been not only about overcoming health challenges, but about learning to let go of my concerns about how others see me, to let go of my job and how much I’ve worked each day, to let go of those voices in my head always measuring my accomplishments, and refuse to let all that define me. Instead, I focus more on allowing me to define me. Day by day, I remind myself that the universe has my back, and that I can show up for myself, when I used to want food, TV, or someone else to fill me up.
Here lies the crossroads we all face-after we’ve gone through a struggle, do we hide our true experiences behind a false image, or do we open up to the world, and find a way to share what it’s really about?
I truly believe that the latter is the better path to health and happiness. We get sicker in isolation, and through that hiding, we keep feeding the universal sickness in our country. We heal through community-through honest sharing, acceptance, and overcoming together.
“For those of us who are focused on recovering or maintaining health,” Adam writes, “it can be a quiet and lonely process. When we win, there’s rarely anyone around to see it or understand the magnitude of what we’ve achieved.”
What have you overcome in your life? What were your struggles? Have you had the courage to share them with others? If not, I invite you now to share some of those stories with us here at Cinco Vidas. We have a kind, accepting community of readers, and together, we can help each other heal.
“I’m competing and striving every day,” Adam writes. “I’m competing with myself to be better than yesterday.”
How about you?
Are you working in small steps everyday to overcome your challenges? Please share your stories of struggle.
For more information on Adam and his book, please see his website.
Adam Farrah, “My Sport is Living Well,” Paleo Magazine, June/July 2013.