I underestimated what it’d be like to undertake this mission, this journey into a new chapter of life and my Paleo adventure. And I severely underestimated the obstacles in my way. Well, maybe not underestimated as not taking into account where they might come from. Change in ourselves is hard enough. What seems like a simple thing soon becomes a herculean task. First for me was gluten. Which was a rude awakening altogether. Eating out has changed from where do I want to eat to where exactly can I eat. And living in a small town, as I do, it makes the selection altogether difficult, if not sometimes impossible. And, being as I work on the road a lot, it has made it doubly hard.
I am not a planner. I am naturally resistant to schedules, so planning meals in advance for me is difficult. I don’t want to be told when to eat. How to eat. I don’t want to be stuck with the lack of options that having my meals determined days in advance makes me feel. I am going to have to change that.
But what’s more disconcerting is the directions some of your obstacles come from.
1) Immediate Family – Sure, they’re supportive at first. Until they want a Whopper Jr. or some warm freshly made bread from the local steakhouse. Then they sit there contentedly, feigning guilt, as they slather it with butter or honey, and slide it slowly in their mouth, chewing slowly, closing their eyes in delight, like they’re paid spokesmen for Wonder Bread. Sure, your steak is coming. In fifteen minutes. But you’re hungry now. Then there are your kids, who just flat refuse to accept your new lifestyle. After all, why should they suffer, you’re old and you’re falling apart?
How to fix this? Realize that your lifestyle change isn’t theirs. You’ve conditioned them over years to be a part of the one you had. The life you lived and the foods you ate, and unconsciously you all came to an unspoken agreement. This is how we eat. You’re the one that opted out, not them. You could also slide laxatives into their cheeseburgers but this is discouraged I am told, and possibly illegal.
2) Parents and Older Relatives – Maddening at times. They’ve not only age on you, they’ve the assembled wisdom of decades of life that you’ve not lived yet. And their experiences (or experiences as they remembered them) are contradictory to your new found knowledge. Sure, you can bring out your charts and graphs and scientific literature explaining why it’s a great choice for you. It won’t work. By God, you were raised on fried chicken and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It turned you into a fine young man. How could it possibly not be working now. I assume there is some hidden guilt here. Were they poisoning you all those years? Were their parents poisoning them? And sometimes even mentioning the phrase gluten intolerant and paleo lifestyle to someone significantly older than you is akin to trying to discuss the musical genius of Prince and how he totally altered the foundation of music. They heard you say it, they recognize the English, they just don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.
How to fix this? You can’t. Don’t try. It is what it is. Your parents tried for years to mold you into a beacon of hope for the human race, into the finest of citizens. They failed. Trying to fix them is, well, just impossible. Just select your Purple Rain album on your iPod, slip in your ear buds and hope they make some vegetables.
3) Friends – Some friends are supportive, true. In fact they can be your greatest advocate. But they can also be a fatal weakness in any plan. They too are used to the you they knew, not the you you’ve become. Want to stop and grab some chicken wings? Nope, can’t. Want to stop for a milkshake? No, I’m trying to quit. Want a beer? Uh, sorry man, can’t do that either. Then suddenly that look transforms to body language that can be most aptly described as ‘who the hell are you?’ Or perhaps it is just frustration. One of the huge things you had in common is now absent. It’s rarely a game changer, but it is an adjustment. And peer pressure, even in advanced years is a heck of thing to overcome. C’mon. One beer ain’t gonna hurt you! Yes, it has the possibility. Just one beer, sure. Then you’re into cheese sticks. Then pizza. And pretty soon they find you in a ditch, strung out on Cool Ranch Doritos, Taco Bell, and Mountain Dew.
How to fix this? Be up front. Don’t drop bombs on them at lunch. Call them and explain that for your next lunch/dinner/night out you’ll be eating differently, and require a different place or if they’re cooking would they mind if you brought your own, or is it too much trouble to just bake your food or grill it or serve fresh vegetables. Sure, they’ll oblige. They’re your friends.
Sure, there are others. But the point is this. You’ll find resistance and reasons to quit at every turn. But sooner or later momentum kicks in and you’ll be sailing along with no effort at all. Sir Isaac Newton is on your side.