The Sewer

When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me that “if you walk through the sewer, you’re bound to get some crap on you.”  Really and truly, that was just his version of Proverbs 13:20 “The one who associates with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”  I got the idea for this post a couple of weeks ago when a facebook friend posted something from the Secret.  Now I generally discount the Secret as a new age belief that treats the creation (the Universe) as the Creator, but in this case, it lines up with the Bible.  The point of her post was that you will become those with whom you hang out with.  The bible makes the point more clearly by showing that you can either become wise, and therefore improve yourself, or you will suffer harm.

I think the same holds true for people who are trying to live a healthier life, whether it be through a paleo diet or through something more neolithic like Weight Watchers.  No matter what program you are following, if you associate with people who constantly through their un-healthy food at you, you are bound to crack.

I am not saying that you should disassociate from all of your unhealthy friends or get a divorce because your spouse insists on bringing doughnuts and oreos in the house.  What I am saying is you have to control your environment the best that you can.  Let me give you an example.

I live in Texas.  So whenever anybody suggests you go out to eat, you can bet that there is at least a 50% chance you will be at a Mexican restaurant.  Of course the biggest temptation of all is waiting for you at your local restaurante, and that devil is called tortilla chips.  Shoot, they bring them out for FREE.  How can you resist?  For many people, chips are like the Borg…resistance is futile.  They really don’t sing a siren song for me, but for people like my wife, they are worse than the serpent in the garden.  So if your friends want to go Mexican, you have to get them to agree to skip the chips with you by agreeing to tell the waiter not to bring the chips to the table at all.  Here is where the companion of fools part comes in.  If your friends are unwilling to make that one small sacrifice for you, you simply don’t go.  And then you start to examine if they are truly your friends at all.  If you have explained to them that you are really trying to make changes that will improve your health and they can’t respect that, then you have to wonder how much they really care for you.

So maybe you have determined that your friends don’t give a hoot about you or your health.  That is where the first part of the Proverb comes in.  “The one who associates with the wise grows wise.”  You could change that to read, the one who associates with the healthy becomes healthy.  In todays connected world, you could start a meetup in your town by posting one on meetup.com.  Another option would be to start to get to know people at your gym.  It is kind of hard to do at your standard globo-gym, so maybe start doing crossfit. There is a real tight knit community of healthy people at every crossfit box that is very welcoming and friendly.  Even if you think you can’t crossfit, I promise you they will scale whatever workout they are doing to your fitness level. Any decent box will require you to go through an onramp class not only to teach you the movements but also to assess your fitness level so they can scale the workouts.  I also like to associate myself virtually with wise people by listening to podcasts.  I regularly listen to Jimmy Moores Livin La Vida Low Carb Show, Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution and Sean Croxton’s Underground Wellness Show.  These are all free on iTunes or if you are a Samsung person like me, on kiescast. Not only am I learning tons of information about health, exercise and nutrition, but I am filling my wisdom cup by listening to and being influenced by healthy people who have a lot of wisdom to share.

Spouses are a different thing altogether. There is not much you can do about them because at the end of the day, you have to go home to them.  Again, if they are not on board with living a healthy lifestyle, I bet if you sat down and had a real heart-to-heart with them about what you are trying to do and how certain triggers make that harder, you could convince them not to bring those things in the house.  Stress to them that you are not asking them to give up Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups. You are only asking them not to eat them at home.  Be sincere and non-judgmental.  Don’t come off like they are something less than you because they continue to eat those things.  Just let them know that you are trying to improve your health by not eating them because they are a problem for you.  Sure, they are really a problem for them, but we don’t want to make it about them.  We want to enlist them in helping us.

What are your ideas on how we can better guard our environment to make sure we don’t walk through the sewer and get fat on us?

Responsibility

I got the idea for this post two weeks ago in my weekly men’s breakfast with some dudes from church.  We were talking about what it means to take responsibility as a man and we turned to the story of Adam and Eve.  I am not going to get in to what that story had to do with our topic, because it doesn’t really apply here, but the story itself does.

Think about how you remember that story from Sunday school as a kid.  Eve is hanging out in the garden when the serpent comes up and talks her in to eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Then she takes a piece to Adam, who eats it and the fall has happened.  But that is not how the story goes at all.  I actually had that realization a few years ago when reading Genesis 3.  How I missed how the real story goes for 30 years is beyond me.  She didn’t take a piece of the fruit to Adam.  She didn’t have to.  He was right there!

“When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it.  She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.” (Gen 3:6)

Ok ok, what does all of this have to do with diet? Really this could apply to any way of eating you have chosen to adopt.  For me it is paleo.  Maybe you are doing Weight Watchers, Ornish or vegan.  Whatever the case, the lesson still applies to you because the real takeaway comes a few verses after.

“The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.'” (Gen 3:12)

Did you see that?!?  That is the first time in history that somebody blamed his or her dietary failing on somebody else.  The woman gave it to me?!?  Really Adam. Because you were standing right there with her.  Not only did you not do anything to stop her (Can’t say I blame him.  Ever try to give your wife dietary advice?), but you took and ate it too.  Dude, nobody held a gun to your head.  Nobody forced you to eat it.  You CHOSE to eat it.

That same thing goes on each and every day of our lives.  We get upset at something, so we use that as an excuse to eat poorly.  We don’t want to offend somebody who made us a batch of cookies, so we eat them.  It’s my wife’s fault because she brought that ice cream in to the house.

Of course none of that stuff we use as excuses is true.  In the end we have ultimate control and responsibility over what goes in to our mouths.  We are the ones who make the decision.  Unless you are a pledge in a fraternity, nobody is forcing you to eat anything.  Heck, even then you could always tell them no and just not join the fraternity.

No matter what way of eating we decide to follow, we need to remember that when we go off the rails, it is our decision to do so.  I think if we come to terms with that fact, it makes it easier not only to stay on plan, but it also helps relieve the guilt of going off plan when you choose to.  It empowers us instead of leaving us feel like a victim.  We are not victims of our choices.  We are the masters of our choices.

 

Communion and Paleo

This past Sunday we had Communion at my church. I remember when I first started out on a low carb diet and I encountered my first Communion. I was panicked. I mean cold sweats stuff. What will the grape juice and tiny cracker do to my weight loss?!? I am sure the same thought crosses the mind of some Christian paleo adherents. I mean you KNOW that you are going to get a gluten exposure when you eat that tiny cracker, right? But I have a different thought.

At the last supper, Jesus used something that would have been readily understood by his disciples to make a point. Bread. Bread, while damaging to your overall health because of the wheat contained therein, made civilization possible. There would be no Jerusalem were it not for grain to help support the society. Grain is still the “staff of life” for many poor cultures world wide. It is cheap to produce and can keep for a period of time. Does that mean you need to make a regular habit of eating the stuff? Absolutely not. I mean you may survive on wheat, but you can thrive without it. But we can’t let our obsession with achieving the best health possible get in the way of experiencing the fullness of our faith.

Jesus did not pass on too many rituals that we should follow. There is no Christmas and Easter in the Bible. In fact, those holidays, while a good opportunity to share about Christ, are remakes of pagan holidays to sell them on Christianity. But one of the sacraments He did give us was Communion. It is a chance to reflect on exactly what He did for us. Of course the bread represents His flesh which was broken by the cross and the wine (or grape juice) is symbolic of the blood he shed as the greatest sin offering ever offered. In fact, it was the final sin offering because He was perfect. To that end, we cannot let this Paleo thing get in the way of our recognition of that very act. Without that act, there would be no reason to be Christian. There would be no grace and there would be no forgiveness of Sin. So the next time the communion plate comes around, forget about your fear of gluten, justified as it may be. Celebrate in the remembrance of what he did for you and me. Unless you are a true celiac, there will be no permanent damage. In fact, if God promises to protect you from the venom of the snake and scorpion (Luke 10:19), I am sure he will protect you from the negative effects of gliadin and gluten.