Narcissism, thy name is still Matt!
It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?
I wish I could blame work. I wish I could blame the late-night emailing, PDF-crunching and general madness of the last few weeks, but that’d be glossing over a painful — but honest — point: a part of me hasn’t wanted to put up a new photo. A part of me has been avoiding it, frankly, for as long as it could.
Read on. This’ll be a rare detour from my usual self-effacing snark, but sit tight — there’s a happy ending at the far end of the ride.
The Longest Journey
A part of me knows that I’m not where I want to be.
I’ve admitted as much on here before, and likewise I’ve come to grips with the part of me that oh-so many people tend to share: perfectionism. This never-ending need to be in the absolute best physical shape of our lives, and this ceaseless desire to fit the mold formed by modern society’s skewed perception of beauty and health.
Personally speaking, I want abs.
And so I’ve been tip-toeing around the thought of another progress photo, especially when the last one — dating back to December of last year — positioned me closer than ever to this vainest of goals. I look back at that Christmas shot, now, and far too often find my eyes fixed on the smallest of details: every line, every contour, everything minute to the exclusion of everything else.
I do mean everything. I mean this:
That’s where I started in early April of 2010, the first of my 15-month journey into a Primal/Paleo lifestyle. I made great progress in a fairly short amount of time, but the greatest contrast came about twelve months in:
That’s the photo from December of last year. That’s the photo I’ve used as a standard for all subsequent shots, the same photo that has quietly discouraged me from posting another, and the same photo, now, that has finally given me the perspective I need.
This doubting? This dissatisfaction with my latest photos?
This is ridiculous.
Missing the Forest for the Trees
I am where I want to be.
I started this journey 15 months ago not for any strict health goal, nor for any desire to drown myself in the perfectionism that has kept step with me for most of my life.
I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to set the stage for an entire life of strong, vibrant living, and I wanted to prove to myself, I think, that health didn’t have to be hard — that the secrets to strength and longevity didn’t demand any bullshit complexity or misguided routines.
I did that. But I forgot it, I think, when I started counting every line on my stomach, when I let those long-term goals become overshadowed by my desire for a sweet set of abs.
There’s nothing wrong with having that goal, I’d argue. There is something wrong when the goal becomes your great big measure of success, when the human desire to tweak overcomes the real changes you should be celebrating: every pound lost since you first started, and the mental shift alone to live a happy, healthy life.
The progress between my first photo and this latest one, in other words. That’s where the real change occurred, I think, on and off the camera, and that contrast alone is what I should be most proud of.
This is who I am now.
I don’t have all of my abs yet. That’s okay. I have my health, the satisfaction with my progress, and the pleasing amount of muscle — and natural strength — I’ve packed on in the last few months alone.
Life is good. I can say that sincerely, with all the faith and conviction you might expect from someone who is still so grateful he stumbled upon this lifestyle in the first place. Paleo works. It works for a number of reasons, but I’d like to think it’s so successful for just two little factors:
1. It asks you to eat meat, fruits, and vegetables most of the time you sit down at the table.
2. It demands that you pay attention. It requires that you care about what you eat, and that you start thinking about your health for the first time in your life.
And what can I say? I’ve never been happier.