Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Take the Stairs

Life is Easier When You Take the Stairs


I think what most of us really want is an easier life, not necessarily a more wholesome one. We want less trouble and more enjoyment, probably more so than we want achievement and virtue. But what we often overlook is that embracing difficulty in certain places nets us a lot more ease than our usual “easy” ways. Putting in three hours a week at the gym is easier than being out of shape 24 hours a day. Studying is easier than sitting in an exam room not having studied. Doing a good job at work is easier than wondering when they’ll finally fire you.
I’m used to thinking of ease and difficulty as a pretty straightforward dichotomy: we want more of one and less of the other. And maybe in a sense that’s true, but they are often found in the same place and come together as a package. A small amount of difficulty often serves as the gatekeeper to a large amount of ease.
We end up with needlessly difficult lives because we have trouble recognizing ease when it’s hidden behind difficulty. It’s hard to see, for example, in that difficult moment when you’re about to walk into a gym for the first time, that you are taking the path of greater ease: if you get yourself through that short, difficult experience, your life quickly begins to lose a lot of difficulty. Beyond the gate, your health situation is easier, dating is easier, clothes shopping is easier, and so is virtually any physically demanding task you can think of, possibly for the rest of your life. All of this ease is bought for three hours a week, which themselves quickly (and permanently) become many times easier than they were the first time. 
And so much more.

Every bit of this resonated with me, and I hope it will do the same for you:


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Avoiding Burnout

An interesting take on how to avoid burnout:

My Secret to Getting Rid of Burnout Permanently

What I have learnt to be extremely crucial in looking at the matter is another way of defining it: burning out is result of not being able to do what you love or what is important to you regularly.

The solution is actually quite simple: do what you love and is important to you regularly.
Another way to look at it is to ask yourself: what is it that you absolutely cannot miss out?

It feels accurate to me, as someone who has all-too-often hit burnout mode. I've come to realize my key bucket-fillers are trails with friends, barbell dates, quiet time in my backyard, and breakfast with my beloveds. Even when I'm working a ton of hours (three jobs!), these things will keep me refreshed and going strong, with ease. THRIVING, even. Take any of them away, and things begin to fall apart quite quickly.

Winter makes three of mine a big struggle, when my yard is an icy wasteland, I feel like I can't make time for breakfast (three jobs), and my trails may not be accessible. However, as winter is also my busiest work season, the need to refill regularly is magnified. I've either got to find more bucket-fillers, learn to prioritize breakfast outings, or take up a deep-snow hobby like snow-shoeing. Or all of the above.

Interesting side note: a few years ago, merely running was a need, but it has shifted to running TRAILS with FRIENDS, which has become a very important difference. Be sure you are clear on exactly what you need!
I hope you already know what you need in your life to feel fulfilled & content & energized for your busy days.

If not, it's absolutely worth taking the time to figure it out, before you burn out again. And if you still burn out, you haven't quite found the right bucket-fillers - keep looking, keep asking, keep searching, so you can keep thriving.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stop Binges Before They Begin

First things first: everything Stefani writes is awesome; please bookmark, subscribe, etc, because she's pretty much a genius.

This post is a fantastic starting point for anyone who's stuck in the binge/restrict/repeat pattern. It's not a new post, but it was new to me, and every single line of it reads true to my own experience with the binge/restrict (and over-exercise) pattern.

When I was in that pattern, my answer to "how to stop binges before they begin" would've been something like "don't have binge-worthy food in the house" but that is so, so, so wrong. You can binge on anything, from cookies to breaksticks to chicken - and I've done it.

The answer isn't selective food, it's eating enough EVERY SINGLE DAY, so that you don't have the physical need to binge.

Wait, did you catch that?

Binges are not a failing of your mental willpower. They are a PHYSICAL NEED you have prompted by restricting your intake. It is your biological drive to live kicking in, and you can't avoid it, no matter how "tough" you are.

Go read Stefani's post to understand it:

Binge/Restrict:The Most Common Pattern of Overeating, and How to Stop (with Love!)

Many women who binge and restrict would like to stop bingeing before they stop restricting. They think that they will lose whatever progress they have achieved, in terms of caloric deficits, if they stop restricting first. They anticipate continuing to over-eat, even while they are not restricting. This is an understandable fear — and trust me when I say that I understand how powerful fear can be as a human being in this precarious state.   However: this is impossible.  Deliberate restriction necessarily begets bingeing behavior.  Necessarily.  Restriction must be phased out of our lives before we can stop over-eating.  Willpower does not do the trick.  Hard-lined restriction does not win.   Love does.
Here's a brief synopsis of my own history: I was trying to eat 1600-1800 calories per day, but averaging 2200-2400 with weekend binges; or I would fast a day or two, and eat more the other days, aiming to average 1800 overall, but again failing that and bingeing on pretty much anything once I hit complete & utter exhaustion.

Post-binge, cue: hating myself, and repeating, and hating, and repeating. For at least a year.

I. Was. Fucking. Miserable.

And I blamed myself, for not having enough willpower, for being dumb enough to try making a Paleo treat and thinking I could moderate intake, for not being able to fast, for ME SUCKING. And I knew it wasn't working, but I didn't know what else to do, because not restricting would obviously lead to massive weight gain. So, continue trying & failing.

I finally gave up, mostly out of sheer exhaustion, but also after reading things written by people like Stefani or Amber. Following their advice, I put my trust in my body, not even caring anymore if I gained weight, just knowing I absolutely could not sustain this life of misery any longer.

When I stopped restricting, something wild and crazy (that's sarcasm) happened: I landed at an average intake of 2200-2400 daily ANYWAY, but without the binges that made me hate myself. Instead, each day I was well-nourished for my exercise, which fueled positive feelings via runner's high and lifter's badassery, and I became a MUCH happier person.

I didn't balloon up into a fat cow, either! I looked exactly the same, because my intake was, on average, exactly the same; but I didn't have to beat myself into exhaustion & hatred along the way.

Truly, it was that simple.

It was a process, it wasn't always easy, but it was a bajillion times easier (& healthier) than the restrict/binge cycle had been.

So please, if you're stuck in this cycle, I implore you to try this route instead: focus on making sure you are eating enough, instead of focusing on how little you can get away with.

What have you got to lose, besides the hatred?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pillars of Paleo

This is a fun AND informative infographic on the basics of a healthy lifestyle - the key factors that you NEED to get right, and all the "fine tune" stuff that you only address after your foundational big rocks have been laid.


For me, it made one thing very clear: I've still got lots of room for fine-tuning - mainly in the mental health side of things. This section in particular spoke to me as EXCELLENT insight.

There is absolutely zero "one size fits all" answer in the world of health. You need to start with the basics, and then try, try, try, until you've found exactly what is best for you.

And then? Continue to try new things, because your "best" will continue to change as you do.