Right now I’d describe my life as disorganized chaos punctuated with bouts of intense hip pain and many periods of extreme laziness. All of this has lead to some very poor dietary choices and a growing waistline.
In short, I do not like myself very much right now.
The last time I felt that way, I’d read a book that turned my life around (after a lot of hard work). Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes set me on a path to putting my health first. It worked…for a while…until life kicked me in the tail.
After cancer, then an unstable hip, plus the efforts required to help my aging mom, life right now feels out of my control.
Now, once again, I’ve discovered a book that might just be the ticket to helping me gain back control over my life.
Recently, I started reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
I know Peterson is a bit of a controversial figure. People either love him or hate him. Do I agree with everything he says? No. But I don’t even agree with myself half the time. Having said that, his book does make me think. And that is awesome. I don’t talk politics on this blog, except when it comes to our boneheaded nutrition guidelines. I will say that just because I agree with someone on a particular point, that doesn’t mean I think they are the next coming of Christ. Nor do I believe that if I disagree with someone, he’s Hitler. We’d be better off if more people go into a conversation with the idea that may be we’re wrong. It’s how we learn and grow.
Cleaning Up My Life
Titled Set Your House In Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World, chapter six really hammers home the idea that when things fall apart in our lives, we have two options:
- Complain about the world and let bitterness and resentment drag us down, or;
- Be invested in our own self-improvement.
Just the other day I was going on and on (for the 100th time) about how expensive it is to eat on the carnivore diet. My husband pointed out that it’s not a big deal if we stopped going out to eat three nights a week at a steakhouse.
I’d wasted so much time complaining that I didn’t stop and ask, “What can I do about this?”
The answer: stop eating out. This makes beef very affordable.
It’s easy to point a finger at our family, our job, our environment, the government, or other entities as to blame for our lot in life. What’s hard is to stop bitching, take a good look at the behaviors that got us here, and then act on those realizations.
In chapter 6, Peterson asks a simple question: “Have you cleaned up your life?”
Clearly, from my carnivore chat with my husband, the answer is a definite “NO.”
Time To Stop Neglecting Myself
I’m not really doing the chapter justice. There’s just so much in it, and I plan to reread it later today. I initially picked up the book to see if I could glean ideas to help me get back on track with eating keto. This chapter was surprisingly revealing and hit me harder than I could have hoped for. I’ve written before that weight loss is 95% food, 5% exercise and 100% mental. Well, it’s the mental side that I need to focus attention on, and Peterson’s observations have really helped me focus on the negative behaviors I need to change.
One behavior is actually a sort of non-behavior: I haven’t been as engaged. I used to do lots of challenges with the diet and exercise. I used to love reading up on the latest dietary research. The more videos I watched or articles I read, the more mindful I was of what I ate. I stayed active and closely tracked my progress. I was engaged and, most importantly, I was having fun.
Then, at some point, I began neglecting the mental component of fitness and health.
Starting Small: February Challenges
So where to start? Here, Peterson offers some guidance: the key is starting small.
How small? It can be as simple as making the bed every morning, or working harder at our jobs. We have to stop doing what we know is wrong, and start doing things we know are right.
I’m sticking with carnivore in February, and will be eating beef and eggs until my garden starts producing. To ease the financial challenge of carnivore, the hubby and I are eating-in all month, and prohibiting alcohol. No wine for me, no scotch in the evenings for him.
Next up: my mobility. Just a couple of years ago I’d go on a 6-mile walks or train for 5 and 10K races. Now I’m lucky if I can walk 15 minutes straight with no pain. From now on, each morning, I’ll spend 30 minutes stretching my hip. Every other day, I’ll add in 15-30 minutes of light yoga, and follow that with a nice walk outside. My goal is to hit 30 minutes of walking a day by month’s end.
Thank you Jordan Peterson, you’ve been a big help. The rest is up to me.