Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rebirth, again

Long story short: I am relaunching my paleo blog, with a new site, new format, and new hotness overall. I originally started a blog on Tumblr, but rapidly decided I didn't like Tumblr's format and drifted away. However, I have found myself researching the world of paleo/primal more and more, coming up with interesting thoughts and observations, so I decided to give things a new, fresh go.

However, my inaugural post from the old blog, has many important thoughts that I thought bore repeating. It was originally posted June 5th, 2011, one week after I committed myself to my new path; my "paleolution," so to speak. So I have reposted this entry, both for posterity, and to remind myself why I set myself on this revolution in the first place:

Last week was my birthday. Although I had many festivities the weekend before, the day-of I found myself alone for most of the day, and I took the time to reflect back on the last year and the journeys I had accomplished. Although I learned a lot and opened myself to new possibilities and adventures, in reflection I saw it as a year of struggle, both emotional and existential.
I had moved to the city, easily one of the best decisions in my life, but after the culture high wore off I was slowly sliding back to the same depressed, anxious person I was before. I’ve come to realize that instead of using the city to expand my personality, I adopted the city as my personality; basically, San Francisco became just the latest partner in a string of co-dependent interactions and relationships in my life. 
I had taken up running semi-seriously for the first time in my life and completed four half-marathons and B2B within less than a year’s time. Instead of viewing this with pride, though, I wallowed in self-loathing over my poor finishing times compared to others of my age and my inability to regiment myself into a training schedule like my friends did.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on pains and frustrations of my childhood and how they have affected me today. But I could not figure out how to move past them. I was stuck grieving over my difficulty in integrating socially as a kid, my lack of an emotionally-supportive male role-model while growing up, my childhood of overly-regimented planning and preparation for the future that left me completely unprepared to deal with the uncertainties and inconsistencies of a boundary-free adult life, and so on.  
Last but not least, the great boogeyman that had plagued me my whole life: my health. I had somehow been raised to believe that keeping my health 100% in shape was 100% critical to my success as an individual. With my depression came fatigue, low energy, and an inability to get things done, which lead me to be depressed about being depressed. Frequent anxiety attacks didn’t help. The depression treatment helped, of course, but with it came other side effects that I had to “fix,” because if I was trading off depression for some other health inconsistency, then I was not 100% healthy, and therefore, I was a failure. On top of all this came something that was like a nightmare to me: an eye infection with no identified cause and no known cure that put me back into glasses and seriously blurred the vision in my right eye. Vision is paramount to me and literally everything I do, so having anything affect it put me into a panic. 
I reflected on all of this in the days approaching and on my birthday, subconsciously wanting change but consciously fearing it because I didn’t know what to do. 
At some point during the late morning of my birthday, I struck up an online conversation with my friend Chrissie. She mentioned offhand how she had started a new diet and lifestyle regime that made her think of me because it is a big proponent of my so-called “toe-shoes.” She said it was a paleo-style diet, to which I said, “Oh…,” hesitant because I had scoffed at such diets frequently before. She said she had been doing it for two months now, though, and was feeling really good. She pointed me to the main website she uses, Bemused, I went to check it out and click around. 
Like I said, I was familiar with the diet, and I already understood the biology, but I found myself drawn to the “success stories” on the site. I saw quickly how they were far more than simple before-and-after-look-at-how-much-weight-I-lost! bragging. Normal people wrote about profound changes that had come through in their life by making this commitment. I saw pieces of myself all over: women dealing with stress and depression, life-long nerds who had never been active and were too anxious about their appearance to be comfortable in public, people with issues of fatigue developing more energy and positive outlooks on life. I ended up spending most of the afternoon reading through such posts, and found myself tearing up at more than a few of them. Once I finished through those, I started reading the actual content of the site. The diet I recognized, but I was amazed at the suggestion that low-grade exercise with only periodic high-intensity workouts, with plenty of time given to rest and recuperate, was actually the best way to achieve better health. This basically was the workout pattern I had been using over the last ten years or so, and always hated myself for, thinking I was too weak and failing if I wasnt pounding out intense workouts and 6-mile runs every other day. 
I realized that discovering all this information wasn’t a golden revelation, but simply another piece of a topic my life had been circling around for awhile. Other friends of mine have done paleo-style diets for years and enjoyed it. The few times my parents have gone on low-to-no-carb diets they’ve lost weight and felt better, but have always succumbed to cultural eating standards and bounced back every time. Beyond the dietary aspects, the last two years of my life have been spent readjusting and restrengthening my body from years of childhood damage through rolfing, yoga, pilates, and more, and through that all I have gained a rich vocabulary of understanding in how my body moves, functions, and feels. My muscles are stronger, my balance is better, and my movements more fluid and smooth than they have ever been, and these are all advancements I am dying to keep. In the realm of strange coincidences, my coverage topics at work this past month have been the circulatory and endocrine system, so I was well-acquainted with the topics of atherosclerosis and insulin response, and it was easy to see how everything discussed on the website meshed-with and completed gaps in general understanding of such topics. To top things off, I was already getting local-gown, organic grass-fed meat through a meat CSA from Marin Sun Farms, and you cant go three blocks in this city without tripping over some farmers market or fruit stall selling local-grown organic produce. 
I looked back on the past year with new eyes. Yes, I had struggled and grieved about not knowing the path I needed to take in my life, but perhaps I had been on that path the whole time and not even realized it. For some reason, the first line of the Traditional Irish Blessing came to my mind: “May the road rise up to meet you.” The basic sentiment of this is that the journey is inevitable, but one can hope that the path that one is on will make the journey along it easier. I thought of all these clues that my life had thrown at me recently and thought that perhaps they were signs trying to show me the way. Perhaps I was now seeing the path because the road, tired of me not getting it, had literally risen up to meet me by hitting me over the head with something more direct. 
I examined this metaphor for the next couple of days, turning it over in my mind to look at from different angles, amused at it’s immediate connection to a theme of running. At the same time, I decided to throw myself headlong along this path, hoping that it will lead to better health and better balance in my life. I decided to start this blog to record the journey: notes on exercise, thoughts on personal development, and even pictures and discussions of the food I eat. Hopefully, it will help keep me centered and keep me focused on how all these things tie together to create better health and individuality overall.

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