“So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”—Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)
When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders, as I did for many years, the world and its problems are impossibly daunting. But when you go out and put yourself in real relation to real people, or even just real animals, there’s a very real danger that you might love some of them.
So far, I’m not seeing much science around the paleo concepts of eating. Which is fine, really. I don’t make my current food choices for scientific reasons that often, either. Eating is an emotional business (for me, maybe not for you).
Some paleo advocates seem to claim “this is how our ancestors ate.” Sounds good, sure. On an emotional level. But the archeological record seems to show that we’ll bloody well eat anything we can get our hands on, good for us or not (wheat and rice being excellent examples). How you interpret that information probably has to do with how you classify success of humans as a species.
Beyond that, it’s all pretty preachy. There’s a lot of obsession with food purity, of making the body pure by doing extreme things. I understand the emotional power of those actions. There have been times in my life where food was frightening, and to bring things “under control,” food intake needed to be heavily controlled too. So.
As for science and eating, there seems to be plenty of it around diabetes and pre-diabetes. Things you can do that will directly affect how the body processes what you eat. I’ll buy that. In fact, a gym friend’s recommended a book, and I picked it up on Amazon yesterday.
So when you shake out all the emotional stuff, the root of the thing seems to be about sourcing your food well. While the preaching about food purity can get a little weird, it does brings to light some of the issues around mass-produced foods and food ingredients. For example, the health benefits of selecting grass-fed beef over grain-fed beef, or selecting organic produce over non-organic.
And by sourcing your food well, you positively reinforce those businesses making better (if more expensive) choices. Even major manufacturers of fruit juices and other beverages have responded to public outcry over high fructose corn syrup.
Pretty awesome that we live in a culture where we have these choices, really.
(Sorry, no source links in this ramble. It’s Sunday, and I’m feeling lazy.)
The idea of going without wine, tea, butter or cheese for the rest of my life sounds daunting (and frankly pretty boring), but I’m toying with the idea of trying it for 30 days. Anyone out there doing the paleo thing?
Three rounds of three reps each: wide-leg lunges, cossack squats, wide-leg down-dogs, and dance moves. In between these rounds, crocodile push ups for one length of the gym.
Then it was outside with a 10-pound club for 10 ninja chops each side followed by a sprint up the stairs and back — three rounds.
Then it was 10 clean squats followed by a run around the office building across the lot — three rounds.
Then it was 15 tire slams each side followed by yet another sprint to the edge of the parking lot — two rounds.
This kind of workout is my least favorite. I am the slowest of the slow, I am not a good runner, and the whole thing starts to feel like a slog after a while. Continually bringing up the rear is not my idea of a good time, and eating humble pie for an hour starts to eat at one’s self-confidence.
If these workouts had been my introduction to Bodytribe, I doubt I would have stayed around for very long.
However. I finished. I did not stop. I said yes to every combination. I did not cry.
The most superficial pointers are easy. In our culture fat is not fit, and before I have the right to move in the not-fat world (also an utter cultural confection), before I have the right to step into a gym or a yoga studio, or out of a plane, or onto a dance floor, I have to look the part.
To which I call bullshit and shenanigans to the whole dialog.
So yeah. Look around. Fat people are marginalized in our culture, and we fear fat like we fear disease: unreasonably and without any regard for the facts.
Fat people are perceived as not only as physically lazy, but morally so.
Either way, the permission to do and act in the world is redacted. Either by my culture’s view of me, of by myself out of shame for what I am not.
Our bodies (inextricably woven to our minds and spirits) are the living record of our choices. If we don’t like our choices, then we have some work to do. “Fat,” “fit,” and every other benchmark we can think up are side issues.
Skinny, fat, in between: don’t take anything for granted. Find where you can be happy. It’s on you. Do it now.
All I can tell you from here, at 46, 5’3” tall, 183 pounds, and post cancer treatment is that waiting in shame for some external factor to change and give you permission to go out, feel good about yourself and move your ass is the only disservice you can do to your body.
So screw what people think, even if sometimes that means telling your own inner critic to fuck off.
Ms. Stumptuous holds forth on the beautiful democracy of a non-commercial gym: “They don’t care if you’re a fatass, a pencil-neck, a four-eyes, a dweeb, geek, dork, banger, or spaz… as long as you show up, work hard, and try your best. If your best is a tuna can or a water jug, fine. See you tomorrow, kid. We’ll give you a bigger tuna can in a week.”
Public, private, inside, outside, and the "internetal" eye.
Right now, writing in the “public” domain of Tumblr is not much different than writing in the “private” domain of LiveJournal; very few know I’m here. Or there. No trolls, no comments. And while I get over my anxiety about seeing and being seen in the wide web world, that’s just the way I want it.
In that vein: I’ve been enjoying Julien Smith's blog. I can't make up my mind if he's this moment's Tony Robbins or not, but his urgings are refreshing calls to my own sense of freedom. He seems to understand the mental prisons of being and writing in a public with an Internet. And like Mama Gena in her early days (not now, mind you, not now that she’s part of the Pink Army, stop trying to pink me and make me buy your crap), he seems to say: screw what people will think or say, screw guilt, screw shame, do what you love, it will be awesome. Do it.
He writes about the pervasive judge the Internet can be (if I let it):
"Everyone has an internetal eye. It always watching. It has been slowly constructed by society at large and by your friends and family, and it checks you for unacceptable behaviour. If you have had it around for long enough, you actually start to believe that the eye is you, and that you’re ‘being reasonable’ or some other rationalization.
But the eye isn’t you at all. It is a prison, and you have justified its existence by obeying it. It’s strong because you let it be strong.
But the secret, the part that’s amazing, is that it can’t do anything to stop you, even if it wanted to. It’s an eye. It can only watch. The rest of you is free to act as you wish.”