One of the things I have in common with many of my friends is that we like to try new things. That doesn’t mean we jump on any bandwagon that comes along or that we are always running out to buy the latest and greatest of something, but it does mean when an opportunity to try something new comes along, we are more willing to give it a shot than other people. We try to keep an open mind about things. One of my personal ‘rules’ is that I will usually try something new at least twice, just in the case the first time was a fluke, as in the new barista at the Starbucks made your coffee incorrectly or the obnoxious instructor at the gym was a sub the first time you showed up.
Another one of my personal rules is “if you don’t ask, the answer is always going to be ‘no.'” Shortly after I started working for my boss, we had a situation where we needed to get a trial date continued and he was reluctant to ask opposing counsel to agree to a continuance. I commented, “it doesn’t hurt to ask because he may say yes and if he doesn’t, you’re right where you are now.” The look on his face told me he’d never thought of it that way and we ended up getting the continuance. What I didn’t tell him is that I learned this little mantra after constantly going through “worst case scenarios” most of my life, which seems a little backward. By constantly looking at the negative side of things, I learned to be optimistic, i.e. I am already in the ‘worst case situation’ so if they tell me no, I haven’t lost anything and I might gain something if the answer is yes!
This philosophy works pretty well with trying new things. I remember when I first started at my gym: I was afraid to try the Water Aerobics class. I didn’t know what it was and the class description wasn’t very descriptive. I didn’t want to show up only to be told I couldn’t participate or that it was too much for me to do blah blah blah excuse excuse. Eventually, I showed up at the pool in the middle of one of the classes by mistake and it looked like the members were having a lot of fun but I sat on the sidelines. Then the instructor asked me if I wanted to join them so I did. Now I realize that my only obstacles to joining the class were my own fear and doubt. The only thing holding me back was me!
Trying new things does require a little bravery and an open mind. You have to be willing to take a chance. You also have to be willing to take a little criticism, both constructive and sometimes simply rude. I got a lot of both when I started following Paleo, but I’ve not regretted it one bit. (Okay, so I do miss bread!) The truth is I tried it and it works for me and I like it a lot. Whatever criticism I’ve gotten hasn’t been enough to change my mind, especially given all the benefits of Paleo for me.
However, we have to be a bit judicious about trying new things. Jumping on every bandwagon that comes along isn’t a good idea. Just because something is “new” doesn’t mean it’s great or even good, or that it will work for you. Keto is one of the newest trends in weight loss. I have tried it, but frankly, I like veggies too much to stay in ketosis. A big part of my meals is usually a big salad or bowl of Brussels sprouts. Another big trend is ‘fat bombs,’ especially for keto devotees. These are usually cream cheese or butter mixed with stevia and coco or another calorie free flavoring. The idea is that you get a treat that won’t take you out of ketosis. They aren’t a bad idea, but they don’t work for me. While they are keto-friendly, they are also full of calories (way more than Brussels sprouts!) and they don’t satisfy my hunger. I can have two or three and still feel hungry but those two or three fat bombs have more calories than the big salad or bowl of coleslaw that will take me out of ketosis.
Kale is another one of these hot new ideas. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable which is being touted as a ‘superfood.’ Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and are typically nutrient dense, high in fiber and low in starch. They are also some of my favorite veggies, so I decided to try kale! I’d had in soup a few times but I learned that’s pretty much my limit for kale! Kale salads, creamed kale, sauteed kale are all a huge NO for me! I knocked on that door and now I’ve pad-locked it closed!
Some new ideas I don’t need to try out because I already know the answer, such as bulletproof coffee. I like butter and I like coffee but I don’t need to try buttered coffee to know it doesn’t work for me. An even worse suggestion is substituting coconut oil for the butter: I don’t like coconut flavored coffees. That doesn’t mean that they won’t work for someone else, and it doesn’t mean I won’t try them out later. I may find out that this is another instance where I am getting in my own way!
When I was in college, I took a German Short Fiction class and we spent a lot of time on Kafka, who is notoriously difficult. One of the stories we read is called “Before The Law.” It’s about a man who waits all his life for entry into the Law and never enters. Shortly before he dies, he asks the gatekeeper why no one else ever came to this door and he is told that “this doorway was made only for you.” This concept has stayed with me ever since. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no and if you don’t knock, the door is always closed. Something great may be waiting for you, but if you don’t even try, you will never know!