Patience Presence Practice

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  • Patience
  • Presence
  • Practice

These three words were the response to a question on what advice Michael Pollan has for anyone looking to improve their cooking skills. At first I was surprised, but also thought that would be a great answer to the same question as applied to losing fat, getting stronger, and many other health issues.

Pollan was in Portland doing a speaking event in support of his latest book “Cooked”, which on the surface is about cooking but is really about us, and how activities we choose to engage in play a huge part in our health and happiness, or lack of it judging by current statistics on obesity and life satisfaction. He commented that though he writes about slow food, the perspective is askew and that it is us who are too fast, and that by practicing patience and being present when preparing food we will likely enjoy it more, and make more time to do it. Cooking is one activity which encourage good family interaction and result in a healthier diet vis-a-vis eating food that is less likely to contain large amounts of sugar, salt, and fat.

In a world where so few of us are obliged to cook at all anymore, to choose to do so is to lodge a protest against specialization — against the total rationalization of life. Against the infiltration of commercial interests into every last cranny of our lives. To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption.

If you have ever spent time on fitness-related internet forums you’ve likely come across dozens of questions about what the best exercise is, what’s the best program, what should I do for x issue, should I eat this and not that etc… all of which are legitimate questions but if the person isn’t already practicing those three words in their exercise and nutrition choices than nothing anyone says will make much of a difference.

And not to get all existential on you that goes for life in general right?

I’ve made it a habit to tell those that come to EFL right off the bat that their bad shoulder, stiff back, or extra 30lbs didn’t happen overnight, so it’s going to take some time and effort to make improvements. And yes we have lost some people who’ve read about some awesome 60 day bootcamp but we owe it our members to be honest and give them the best information and guidance we can.

Who doesn’t want to believe that there is some secret out there that once grasped will restore us to perfect health?! Honestly though, don’t we all know thats not really the case?  There is no “superfood” nor any super exercise. Pollan advocates a balanced diet but one not restricted by ingredients but with quality in mind, similar to exercise and movement specialists such as PT Gray Cook who advocate developing an enjoyment of a variety of exercise while keeping in mind principles of good movement.

Funny how it’s all connected isn’t it?

If you want to lose weight be aware that it will take time and adjustments to your lifestyle, and you’ll succeed by paying real attention to what you eat and how much of it. Do that long enough and chances are it will work. Patience, presence, practice.

Looking to get stronger or improve your cardio? Make changes in your exercise that accurately reflect these goals and if you really follow it (the goal is to keep the goal the goal, as Dan John always says) you’ll progress. Patience, presence, practice.

One final note, I’ve become more intimately familiar with those three words by having a 3 month old infant daughter, which also explains why this is the first article I’ve written in four months! Patience…patience…

If you want to listen to the discussion with Michael Pollan check it out at Oregon Public Radio.


About the Author:

Owner of Elemental Fitness Lab in Portland, OR. Our approach to training is to integrate research (I'm an NSCA CSCS, certified Functional Movement Screen, and Precision Nutrition) with practical experience. I've studied martial arts in Japan and the U.S. for many years, and have put in my time in the gym, in the water, on the snow, on the rock wall, and on the bike.
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