Imperfect Day


When people embark on a new venture, like a new nutrition program, they do not expect to fail. Full of vigour and enthusiasm, they feel ready to improve their diet, exercise and lifestyle. But if you ask them how they imagine their new life, almost inevitably you will get a picture of a PERFECT day. The day where they bounced out of bed early to go for workout (or at the very least, an energising walk), had all their meals prepared for the day, felt perfectly satisfied and full after each one, managed their work stress, astonished their work colleagues with own weight loss and vitality, had enough energy to attempt a deadlift PB in the evening, spent quality time with their family, browsed through at least 20 Paleo blogs, meditated, mastered a homemade jerky recipe and had a restoring 8 hour sleep undisturbed by blue light.

Nobody wants to think that one day they will want to throw their alarm clock across the room in the morning. Or that their work pressures will pile up over the course of the day culminating in a massive verbal punch up with a co-worker. Or that they will have a fight with their boyfriend and the thought of a pity party for one, complete with a tub of ice-cream and Lindt chocolate balls (ahem), seems like a perfectly reasonable idea.

Because that would be failure. And it wouldn’t happen. And, anyway, if it did, you would know exactly how to deal with it. Sure, 99.99% of people in your situation, would crumble and lose the plot. But you are different. You are SPECIAL. You have superhuman willpower, steely determination and you totally mean it this time.

Sorry to break it to you, a unique snowflake you are not.

But I was soooo strong…

Reality will bite you on the arse just like everyone else. Human physiology trumps willpower every single time. If you are working shift work, don’t expect to have energy for daily WODs. If you are stressed at work, don’t marvel at your increased appetite, and for God’s sake, don’t hover around a muffin platter. One of you is going to lose, and it ain’t gonna be the muffins.

So my new theory is, prepare for a IMPERFECT day. Think of everything that can go wrong (yes, I know, it’s a bit morbid) and work out a strategy of how you are going to overcome it, minimize it or at least mitigate the damage.

Here are a few of my strategies:

1. Too tired to cook healthy food at night -> Do a massive cook up prep with cut up veggies and pre-cooked meats Melissa Joulwan style on Sundays
2. No motivation to work out -> go for a long walk on uneven terrain, accelerate on a few stairs and recover in the open air
3. Fatigue/stress/frustration building in the afternoon -> take a 5 mins break outside, preferably on the open air, and take 20 deep breaths with your eyes closed
4. Cold/sore throat/cough/fever -> (I can’t believe I have to write this) please do not go to the gym. If energy levels are still ok, go for a short walk. If feeling tired, go home and curl up on the couch. Please.
5. Everything went wrong for you today, personal life in shambles, work has been shit, you want to cry, watch soppy movies and eat chocolate -> cry, watch soppy movies and eat the best goddam chocolate you can lay your hands on.



Paleo and Stuff

Strawberries from a corner store in Rome (2011)

Spring time doesn’t lend itself to many serious pursuits. Especially if you have just completed the hardest 8 years of your life and getting ready to start the next undoubtedly harder chapter in a couple of months time. Forgive me if I feel a little too contented, not to say lazy.

Notwithstanding my reluctance to google, pubmed and otherwise research the fascinating topics of health and nutrition, I have been quite active in different endevours, namely spring cleaning. If you are anything like me you normally completely ignore housework, bar essential chores like washing the dishes and killing spiders (I live in Australia, remember?). And once in a blue moon something crazy takes over your mind and you turn into a lean mean cleaning machine. Nothing will stand in my way. I must have missed out on the sentimental gene since I’m totally ruthless in getting rid of stuff and clutter, no matter how many heartstrings it may pull.

Spring cleaning is very Paleo. Truly. Stuff can weigh you down. Consumerism is not Paleo. Not to say that I turn my nose at nice bits of luxury which civilization has kindly provided. As far as I’m concerned, if our brains were intelligent enough to invent spa baths and hair dryers it would be an insult to evolution not to use them.

At the same time i find myself buying and using less and less Stuff. Forget low fat yoghurt, muesli and pasta. This is way beyond food, just like Paleo is way beyond diet. I’ve compiled a little list of the things I don’t use, don’t buy and don’t need.

1. Face cream:  because high saturated fat intake from natural sources keeps my skin supple and smooth.

2. Body lotion: no more puzzling in the aisle if I need moisturising, replenishing, firming or revitalising (what does it even mean???). Because coconut oil does all the above.

3. Hand cream/foot cream/eye cream/pimple cream/lip cream and any other body part cream: because unlike what cosmeceutical companies would like us to believe, our skin is pretty much the same everywhere, and coconut oil really does the job and smells absolutely divine to boot.

Many women would appreciate the above points: it is truly liberating not to get caught up in the world of the latest REVOLUTIONARY anti-wrinkle collagenX-retino-oxy-revivo-intensiv serum with elastoZ pigments which cost $30 for a 30mL jar. And for the guys out there: imagine the amount of money your wife or girlfriend is NOT spending. I know it’s hard to comprehend since most of you were never actually aware how much we used to buy but you get the picture…

4. High heels: controversy here! Glamour is seriously underrated and I’m far from a Birkenstock®-clad hippy chick.  I still do wear heels occasionally but my feet are so used to flats or barefoot now that it almost seems a shame to encase them in uncomfortable shoes. These days I’m more likely to compromise on platforms.

5. Toaster: this home staple is gathering dust in my top cupboard. Obviously we don’t eat bread. And we don’t keep it for visitors either because we care about friends and their health. Ditto bread bin. I still remember thinking about buying a bread making machine once. *shudder*

6. Sunscreen : that’s a big one. Living in the country with the highest skin cancer prevalence in the world understandably makes one a little nervous about sun exposure. My reading on vitamin D (which I started long before any dietary change) convinced me that our sun-fearing hysteria has done us more harm than good. Even IF (a big IF) sunscreens are harmless and IF (another big IF) the sun indeed causes skin cancer, the consequences of vitamin D deficiency outweigh the risk of having a mole cut out.

7. Antibacterial soap/carry on sanitiser: my background is in microbiology and I respect bugs and do not underestimate them. I’m meticulous about washing my hands in the hospital. At home we use normal soap and my daughter is expected to wash her hands if visibly dirty or before meals. Otherwise I am happy for her to receive adequate exposure to ubiquitous organisms and develop healthy resistance.

8. Surface spray/shower cleaner/oven cleaner: you already know what I think about cleaning. “Bam! And the dirt is gone!” tends to leave me cold. Just use soap and water.

9. Antihistamines/paracetamol/cough drops/diclofenac (Voltaren) cream Disclaimer: if you need it, if it was prescribed to you for a reason, if you use it properly medications are good, no, great. But the combination of clever advertising, fix-it-now attitude and the lack of education on side effects have contributed to our pop-a-pill culture. No medications are benign. Don’t avoid them because they are a product of evil pharmaceutical companies and the government is watching you through the television. Just use wisely.

10. Metamucil: I’ll leave that one for you to figure out.

Funny thing happens when you start using critical thinking on a daily basis: you become impervious to bullshit. Advertising doesn’t work on me: give me your best sell and I still just don’t NEED that Stuff. Although I’m not planning to give up my creature comforts and go to live in a tent just yet.

What am I not giving up? Shampoo, mascara, lip gloss, perfume, anything from Apple™, my car and restaurants.

How much Stuff is in your life? Does it weigh you down? Have you found your minimalistic approach? What have you chucked out and what are you happy to keep?