A couple weeks ago, I posted about the great connection I made with author and founder of “Practical Paleolithic,” Adam Farrah. Adam and I shared similar health challenges in our lives, and have found we feel better when following the Paleo diet.
Then, in a second post, we talked more specifically about the diet, and how important it is to tweak it as needed to fit your individual needs. We gave away two signed copies of Adam’s book, The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link, to two lucky readers.
Today, we’re going to talk about that place that many of us come to, when we’ve worked so hard to change our diet and lifestyle with the goal of experiencing better health. We think we’ve reached our destination, when can we step back and relax a little bit, but then we get caught up in a whirl of stress or miss a few nights’ sleep and we’re feeling unwell again. How do we maintain what we’ve established in the face of our modern world?
Change is Ever Evolving
Adam thought he had found the solution to his health problems with the Paleo diet and lifestyle. He not only adopted a hunter-gatherer diet, but quit his corporate job, dropped his CrossFit affiliate, and struck out on his own to create a life that more closely resembled his commitment to health. Yet even after all these changes, it wasn’t an easy road.
“There was a desire to get out of the corporate world and the sixty hours a week,” he says, “but you still have to make a living and you still have commitments to keep.” Adam found out that being an entrepreneur comes with its own stresses, which can be overwhelming at times. “A part of me is driven and wants to be up at three in the morning on Facebook because I need to be there, I still owe people things, but then there is the part of me that doesn’t feel well if I do that.”
I know what Adam is talking about, as the same thing has happened to me. I feel a lot better now that I’ve made the changes I talked about in this post. I’m now committed to a Paleo diet, to my yoga and meditation practice, and to shutting off the gadgets at bedtime. But I still struggle on some days, when business matters start taking over, or when I have more demands on my time than I’d like. I start checking my emails way too late at night, or feel like I have to get a project done right now.
I’ve noticed particularly that as my business expands, I experience growth spurts when it feels like everything becomes extremely overwhelming. I’ve had to learn how not to freak out, and instead, problem solve. It’s much better for my health!
As I problem solve, I’m getting used to being in the energy of a growing business, understanding that there will be times I’ll feel like I’ve got too much on my plate. Part of my practice is to continue to turn it over to God; to know that when I’m exhausted and feel like I’m going to break, it’s because I’m over-managing my life and not trusting. Being aware of these things helps me bring my attention back to the day-to be where my feet are, and focus on what I can do today, what I can delegate today, and when the next yoga class is, cause I’ve got to get myself to it right now! (ha)
Try, Try Again
How do we maintain our commitment to our healthy habits, whatever stresses may be swirling around us? Adam says the key is practice.
“It was easy, at first, when I first started these practices, but then as time goes on, I say to myself, ‘I have to do this again? Didn’t I just do this?’ But after years of doing these things and experiencing how they help me feel better, I say to myself, ‘Yes, you have to do this.’”
There is a point where the habits become ingrained, where it feels uncomfortable not to do the yoga or meditation or get to bed on time. That’s when you know you’ve progressed to the next level. But you still have to deal with the times when stress raises its ugly head.
“There’s always going to be some struggle,” Adam says. “It’s easy to do our healthy habits when we’re not stressed. It gets really hard when we’re under a lot of stress. When I was coming up against deadlines for my book, for example, I didn’t have a lot of appetite for Paleo food. Every crazy thing that came across the television in a food ad looked really good. Our bodies are designed that way. When you’re stressed out, the fight or flight response kicks in, and demands you get out of pain now. So you’re not thinking about how you’re going to feel a month from now.”
How does one cope during those times? Adam encourages readers to just keep trying. “It’s always a practice, an evolving, living, changing, growing practice. Sometimes it will come easy, and sometimes it won’t, but it does get easier with time. Still, I’m ten years in [on the Paleo diet/lifestyle] and I’ve had plenty of struggles along the way. Some people go Paleo and after a couple months they have no cravings, they have no problems, and they feel great, but that wasn’t my experience. I believe the diet is the way to go, but like anything, you have to work at it, you have to practice it, and you have to recommit every day to doing what’s best for your health.”
Amen to that! I would add that we need to be gentle with ourselves. We’re going to slip up. We’re going to eat something we shouldn’t, stay up too late, and push ourselves too hard. (This is my biggie this year! I have to learn to slow down and trust that it is all unfolding as it should be and that I’m not super woman.)
My key is to get up the next morning, see what worked and what didn’t, and then set the intention to do it differently if I need to. Health is a practice, and it may take continuous conscious effort, but at the end of the day, the rewards far outweigh the efforts.
To order a copy of Adam’s book, please go to Amazon.
Adam Farrah, “My Sport is Living Well,” Paleo Magazine, June/July 2013.