Do or Do Not, There is No Try.

I’m about to get all Yoda on you.

I’ve talked about a few of these topics before, but they’re coming together in my mind and have been reemerging frequently. So welcome to my stream-of-consciousness.

We are a species hell bent on duality: this, not that. I am me, you are you. I like this, I dislike that. Everything is defined in relation to something else and nothing in this world stands alone. Your opinion of something is based on what you think about something else. Something is pleasant because something else was unpleasant. If we knew nothing but pleasant experiences, we couldn’t know what misery or sorrow or anger was, and vice versa.

When I started out eating Paleoly, I sincerely thought I would be able to move back and forth between Paleo and SAD options seamlessly and at will. Yeah, yeah, stop laughing. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. My diet has gotten progressively more disciplined over time and I feel like I’m in a pretty good place with it. It feels easy and natural. I no longer chafe at the “restrictions” of it. Some days I’m stricter, some days I’m not. But most of my not-days are still within grain-free territory, as in, I’m not out gobbling up pasta on the weekends.

So before I get incendiary, I want to state that I’m all for whatever works for you. And I realize we’re all citizens of the world and, by no means, am I saying that I’m a perfect Paleo diet specimen. But.

The 80/20 rule? It’s a crutch for newbies. Probably a necessary one for me at the time. If you’re still citing it as an excuse to get the pumpkin raviolis, let me tell you a secret: If all goes as planned, you will outgrow it. And that’s a good thing.

And another thing. Those designated “cheat” days? Who are you people? Amateurs.

Here’s why. Because as long as you see the world as either/or, the SAD will continue to haunt you. You will never accept Paleo-style nutrition as “normal” when it is, in fact, the most normal and sane way to eat as a human on this planet. I believe it is the healthiest, the most commonsensical, the most ethical, and the most environmental way to eat. Period.

I saw an ad in my Sunset magazine recently for Weight Watchers’ Smart Ones frozen meal selections. The page was divided into quadrants, each one adorned with some sort of edible foodlike substance. Some sort of weird beige breakfast sandwich, two pasta meals with “cheese” sauce, and a dessert with some sort of caramel-chocolate sauce drizzled over. Folks, it didn’t even look like food to me and I instantly felt deep sorrow for whoever thinks they’re doing their body a favor by eating that garbage.

Why do I mention this? Because all SAD food is the exact same thing. I don’t care if it’s a fresh made scone or a Twinkie. It’s. All. The same. Shit.

It’s perfectly fine if you decide to eat it with full knowledge and control. As long as you return to us, that’s all that matters. How will you know you’re ready? When you no longer see those dietary aberrations as a threat to your Paleo cred. A few tortilla chips? Dessert to celebrate your anniversary? Go for it. Now keep going because there’s nothing to see here. It is not a failure, a weakness, or a mistake. It is life, it is food, it is fun. That’s all.

Ay yi yi!

How do you know you’re not ready? When chips and guac turn into a week-long shame spiral. When you feel like Paleo is “hard”. When convenience trumps everything you’ve learned about how to take care of yourself.

Those were the lessons of 2011 for me. 2012 is all about “exercise”.

As you know, I’ve drunk the MovNat Kool-Aid (sugar-free, organic, and all-natural of course). I don’t know what else to say about it other than it’s changed my life in that way that few things have. I know this feeling and I must pay attention.

So Erwan Le Corre’s statements about animals and exercise (from this previous post) really struck a chord with me. To recap, for example, when birds fly, are they performing a wing muscle exercise? No, it’s ridiculous. Which is why it’s equally ridiculous for a human to spend any time on an elliptical trainer indoors under fluorescent lighting. If a lion were to attack you, would you elliptical yourself out of harm’s way? Is there any natural, real-world movement at all that mirrors elliptical strides?

Okay, okay. We’re sold on natural movement, but let’s take this a step further.

If we’re trying to dissolve boundaries between this and that, then here’s another one: there’s no such thing as a workout. I know, you guys have had it with me at this point, but bear with me. There’s no such thing as exercise. These are artificial definitions we’ve created to further compartmentalize our lives.

It’s helpful to think of ourselves not as nouns, but as verbs. Actions speak louder than words, right? So. What are you-ing? And I don’t mean this necessarily in a pin-pointed way, let’s instead take it as a general consensus. Because obviously I’m currently sitting quite slumped in my office chair and typing way past my bedtime. Duh. But what verbs am I investing energy into on a daily basis? Where is the emphasis in my life? And does my perception line up with the reality? If not, what can I begin doing?

Because ever since taking the MovNat class mere weeks ago, there is no longer a separation. I stand straighter when I carry my daughter. I feel my feet more consciously on the ground and what work is required for them to move me. I see tree branches as opportunities. The boundaries are dissolving. I think this is what Erwan means when he talks about expressing our full potential as human beings. When I go into the woods to throw rocks, balance on logs, and hop around, I am not working out, exercising, or going for the burn. I am me-ing.

How does Paleo inform your life in a holistic way?


5 Responses to “Do or Do Not, There is No Try.”

  1. I love this: ” the 80/20 rule….you will outgrow this”

    It’s so true. If I’m honest, I’m still transitioning but that’s ok. Gradually I no longer feel the urge to cheat. Real food just tastes better, simple as.

    With knowledge about the food you’re eating, comes the power to resist all the crap that’s out there.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking and inspiring piece.


  2. I lost it for a week last week and DID sugar and wheat. After months of aiming at the 80/20 and doing it 95/5 and feeling fantastic. And wonder of wonders this little failure last week has been really useful because… I felt CRAP. My right knee swelled and hurt, I have a mild sciatica down my left hip and leg, and my neck is stiff and cracks when I turn it. My tummy got bloated and my weight jumped immediately after being very stable. Guess who is very motivated to feel that fantastic feeling again? And it’s easy, even though there have been a few symptoms of re-adapting to lower carb again, it’s not as bad as the first time last year. I feel like I’m outgrowing any “reasons” to eat rubbish. Thanks for your great posts Yoda! I’m putting them on Facebook.

  3. This post is a great inspiration to stop using the 80/20 rule as an excuse for eating junk I know isn’t good for me. I’ve been “mostly Paleo” for a few months, but I always feel better when I focus entirely on real and grain-free foods. No reason not to start today!

  4. I love the whole idea of the Primal diet and actually follow a lot of it – but I can’t really commit as a life long vegetarian! Are there any Primal veggies out there? I would be pretty close at times but I can’t really wrap my head around it all the way. Great blog!

    • There are some who would be more adamant against vegetarianism, so be ready for that. From my point of view, if someone has an ethical stance against eating animals, I ain’t gonna touch it with a ten foot pole because we all have our beliefs and feelings about things, and we all want them to be respected. I do think it’s worth investigating and understanding that it’s not an optimal human diet, especially in terms of B12 and K2. You also have to look out for the sugar-tooth trap that many vegetarians/vegans fall into.
      So yes, I would say you can absolutely apply the principles. Eliminate grains, sugar, vegetable oils, and processed foods. Consider your blood sugar levels when you eat. Get lots of healthy fats, which in your case would be coconut oil, avocado, and butter/ghee. Consider adding fish, or try mussels/clams if you have a “face” aversion. Eat eggs and a moderate amount of nuts. If you find yourself getting irrationally hungry between meals, up the fat intake instead of reaching for fruit or treats. Make sure you’re getting good sleep and some good sun exposure for vit D. Since you’re Paleo-curious, you might try studying human evolution and cell development to see how all these nutritional pieces come together on a basic level.
      If you can, consider adding fish oil supplements (Carlson is a good brand). I’m not really a believer in supplements, and B12 in particular hasn’t been shown to be fully effective unless injected, so that’s a mixed bag for sure. But it’s worth exploring what other Paleo veggies do supplement-wise.
      To that end, here’s a good thread on the topic at Paleo Hacks:
      There are other vegetarian discussions there too, check ’em out (being sure to discard the idiots).
      Hope that’s helpful! Keep me updated on your journey.

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