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The Lure of Perfectionism

What can I, or anyone, *expect* from the Paleo Diet, in my case a simple 3 or 4 weeks of it? You avoid the sugars and the grains, you eat under 100g carbs per day, you stay active, you eat grass-fed ruminants and wild-caught fish… and then what? What’s the end point? At what point is the super-strictness and over-analysis just not worth it anymore? When is it okay to indulge in a cup of ice cream or a chocolate bar or a beer?

I’ve been at this particular challenge for 24 days now. Looking back on the first post I did about this go-around, I really didn’t set any goals for weight loss or fitness. I was looking more at making the smartest possible choices about sourcing my meat, getting enough fat calories, and limiting carbs to post-workout times. And I’ve done *that*. But now I wish I had a different set of guidelines. Do I want to get progressively stronger? Certainly. Do I want to stay fit and active and not have to worry about gnawing on my inhaler after a 2-mile walk to work? Sure. But the aesthetic benefits of eating clean and working out hard, simply because the pounds aren’t *dropping* off like excess marble off a Michelangelo statue, are starting to nag at me.

Do I want to get down to 175 pounds? Potentially. This morning, I was 182 with 16.5% body fat, which (if accurate) means a straight-up 5 lb fat loss in these past 3 weeks. Not bad at all. If I continued on this trajectory for another 3 weeks, that would be 177 pounds at 14% body fat. But again, this is no guarantee. I could stay strict with the diet and not see *any* more changes. Maybe my genetic make-up likes me at this size. Or I could have a big chunk of chocolate twice a week and keep on this same fat-burning course. Obviously, I’m being a perfectionist, and I want to see massive, rapid improvements in my body composition, but is that ever going to happen? And if so, how hard would I need to work to make it happen? Is it worth the micro-managing?

Conclusions: there is a lot of pressure to look fitness-model ripped. Everywhere you look is another success story, somebody who’s reached that goal, dropped all the weight, has a six-pack, etc etc. So you start thinking, why not me? I put in the work. I eat clean and healthy. What does it take to get a super-athlete physique? Is it possible for everyone, or only a genetically-gifted few? Is it even an admirable goal, or is it bound to lead to disappointment? I don’t know the answer. But I’m slowly, surely, starting to get a bit tired of making goals out of weights and body fat percentages and chasing the scale or the calipers on a weekly basis. Maybe it’s time to purge those goals and make benchmarks out of fitness, strength, speed, and activity once again (like in my early days of crossfitting).

Next time: I learn to swim. Also, I tinker with the idea of a carbohydrate load.

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