Wow. Try saying that three times fast.
“We associate truth with convenience, with what most closely accords with self-interest and personal well-being or promises best to avoid awkward effort or unwelcome dislocation of life. We also find highly acceptable what contributes most to self-esteem. Economic and social behavior are complex and to comprehend their character is mentally tiring. Therefore we adhere, as though to a raft, to those ideas which represent our understanding.”
Dr. Michael Eades has written an insightful post on the subject of Oprah Winfrey’s much-publicized and on-going battle with weight. Same goes for Mark Sisson, over at Mark’s daily Apple. Both Mark and Dr. Eades have done a wonderful job in explaining the physical side of Oprah’s dilemma; I’d just like to add a couple of things concerning the psychological side of things.
No matter what your feelings for Oprah are as a person (professionally, political leanings, etc.), you have to acknowledge that she’s nobody’s fool. She’s smart, articulate and a savvy-as-all-hell businesswoman to boot. I greatly admire her for having risen to where she is, given what she had to begin with – which is to say, not squat. This is the type of person who comes ready-armed with all the mental ability, money and power required to seek the most knowledgeable, cutting-edge advice in any given area of study she so chooses. So why has she repeatedly fallen prey to such miserable diet and fitness advice? Because, in my humble opinion, she sought — and obtained — the “best” conventional advice in the land. And I think we can all learn something from her mistake.
Now this is purely speculation here, but I would imagine that the one thing Oprah does not have much of is time. She’s not afforded the ability to personally delve deep into, and fully investigate, any one single, or set of, issues. Now, if she employs someone to do this for her (which she obviously could — and, I would assume, does), she ends right back in the realm of the “best conventional” thought. What else would a well-paid employee seek out for her? And I can imagine some instances where conventional thought might not be so bad, either — business and, say, finance as well. Unfortunately for Oprah, though, in the venue of diet and fitness, conventional advice (especially given her hormone profile and genetic leanings) was tantamount to prescribed failure. She never even had a chance. And that’s too bad, both for her personally, and for the thousands (millions?) of people who’ve looked to her over the years for dieting inspiration.
At this moment, the “Paleo-way” is considered by the mainstream (and by “mainstream”, I mean professionals), I would say, as nothing more than a misguided fringe movement. To your average Joe on the street, practitioners of Paleo are right up there with Roswell aficionados. I know, I get the “looks” and the rolled eyes. All of which tells me that we Paleo (in all of its many variations) practitioners are, by nature, skeptics, non-believers and contrarians. If someone tells me it’s raining out, my first impulse is to look for an indication of moisture on their coat. Yeah, it’s sick, I know. But is has served me well at times. And that “question authority” and “question convention” attitude is exactly what led me to the Paleo Way to begin with. It’s also the personality quirk that continually forces me to question my own assumptions. This chronic distrust of conventional thought just may be the height of madness – and, if it is – well, I’ll just have to be one fit, lean and institutionalized fellow. But question I do, and hopefully always will.
But eventually, years from now, the herd will catch on. I mean, they have too, right? But what then? What happens when yesterday’s contrarian becomes tomorrow’s conventional? That’s the last place I want to be, which is why I nurture my questioning attitude and which is why I’m not too proud to say I was wrong, or that I need to re-adjust my thinking on a particular subject. Or that if the conventional does happen to be right, to give it its due. I know that my brand of the Paleo Way – the TTP Way – will undergo continuous refinement. Nothing is perfect, all needs to be flexible. And everything deserves to be questioned.
Anyway, with any luck Oprah will finally catch on. I just hope she finds her way before she suffers any serious, lasting damage to her health. And, hey, Oprah, *wink, wink* if you’re reading this, my coaching services are available. And I’m a pretty damn good cook, as well.