Recapturing a Passion

This one’s to all you former fat asses, like me.

Have you considered that you might be holding back from a former passion that you abandoned or slacked off from because of weight, age, diminished strength? Well I’m going to tell you a story, and it has a bunch to do with why my blogging of late has been rather lazy.

The story is that back in about 1996, nearly 15 years ago, I took up the sport of hang gliding. …Note (and I hate bringing this up): I’m less than enthused when someone comments “I gotta try that!” Listen: I also fly sailplanes and powered aircraft. Hang gliding is way harder. I soloed in powered aircraft inside of a couple of months. It took months of hard effort to get anywhere close in a hang glider.

You don’t “try it.” It’s not parasailing in Mexico, which is merely a ride.

Alright, pet peeve outta the way, let’s get down to what I’m talking about. I’ve found myself less than enthusiastic about blogging in terms of health & fitness, since MovNat. Why? Well, perhaps it’s because that was such a cleansing week. I don’t really know. It would be great if I could tell you: I’m not blogging as much, or as objectively, because…

I can’t. All I know is I don’t feel like it. Is it because there are a rush of new bloggers trying to capitalize on the newfound popularity? Perhaps, and I hope so (and I’m still planing a post to highlight a few of the best). But I think the better explanation is that it’s now a year or so that I’m down to an acceptable weight, leaner, strongest I’ve ever been, and so, I find myself wondering what I really want to focus on.

…This blog…or something else, like maybe a former passion… Here was the hang gliding post from a couple of years ago, after I’d lost most of the weight. But it doesn’t and certainly didn’t feel anywhere close to the same. Perhaps it takes time in the new life?

I’m fucking strong! Really strong. Stronger than at any time in my life by far, and getting stronger. Strength is way underrated, seems to me, from where I sit now, and I’m intent on getting even stronger. And now this shit is easy, so easy where it was debilitatingly hard before. Fun easy…. Gives me confidence I never had, and I actually have designs on perhaps even getting into serious cross country flying (the record is 425 miles in a day in a hang glider) and competitions (typically, 80-100 mile tasks over 6-8 days straight). It’s a passion. It has reawakened! And in such a way as I’m envisioning what I didn’t even envision 15 years ago when I began.

I hold paleo eating and lifting heavy weights responsible. Damn it!

So here I am. I maybe want to blog about lost passions for a while, or maybe nothing and just field comments if they come. Can any of you help in comments? Can you think of something that was once a passion that went by the wayside when you got fat, old, or some combination thereof, that you made all sorts of excuses for?

I tried to edit this video down as much as I could. It was a lot of footage, but still sits at 10 minutes to capture the essentials from where I sit. The last one was just of me doing the deal, the flying. 2:30 out of 40 minutes. This one is about the run up to flying and all that goes into it, which is a lot. But hopefully, you see the passion, even more than the sport of it. And there’s more below the video.

And what the hell… I figure a few of you guys out there might be comfortable in thinking this is way, way, way, a Macho deal, and as such, way easily dismissible (but that’s ok, ’cause that’s just ’cause I wanted to post hot chick video no matter what). Lame excuse, and no offense. Still, check out the hot hang glider chicks. Really!

From New Zealand.

And, check out artsy fartsy.

I love how she describes the video.

This is an exaggeration on the difference between my ‘real’ life and my hang gliding life. I am not that depressed in real life :) but I do daydream about it a lot. I love the challenge, seeing new places from a different perspective, meeting people I connect with and having too much fun!

A super understatement, for a modestly overstated video. I relate because I can remember months in the early years where I thought of little else than flying — for hours — before McDonald’s & Pizza.

How can I wrap it up? Hang gliding can be really, really scary, at certain times. Weather conditions, mostly, but also unfamiliarity with where you’re landing and a host of other things. This is an enormous aspect of the allure. Scare yourself half to death, often irrationally so, but with a real connection (flying on your own, right out there), but with an alcoholic beverage out there upon completion. What more do you want?

It is the most difficult, varied form of aviation, bar none, and I could expound upon that. …Well, perhaps if you had to shoot other gliders down. There might be that.

Is this boring, irrelevant, or something else undesirable? Let me know, in comments. Anyone else have lost passions they’re recapturing, and even better than before?


  1. Darrin on August 12, 2010 at 06:46

    Although I can blame it on neither growing old nor fat, one of my passions was lost due to something I believe to be much more insidious – the belief that I was just wasting my time. When I was younger, I used to draw and paint all the time. Any scrap piece of paper wouldn’t make it long around me. I was planning on going to school for art, got voted most artistic in high school, etc.

    But got to my senior year and started to panic, having thoughts of spending the rest of my life as a starving artist. So I did what anyone would do… I went to college and pursued a degree that would get me a stable income to avoid the destitute life of an artist. Yesh.

    Fortunately, I learned the error in my ways a while back and started drawing and painting again. For a year, it was three hours every day. Although I’ve dialed it back a bit recently (I’ve got another dream I’m chasing), I still have a lofty goal for my art that I plan on making happen in my lifetime.

  2. Erin on August 12, 2010 at 13:53

    I love reading about people that follow their passions, no matter what the interest. Now that I am healthy & quit my job, I am in the odd place of ‘finding’ my passions. This should not be that hard, but its funny that I went through 35 years of my life pretty much just getting by. Now I am on the hunt to finding what makes me tick, hoping to pass this skill on to my children one day. I have paleo to thank for that at least! Its always great to hear how others are inspired, period.

  3. Jmac on August 11, 2010 at 23:57

    This is a little different but I always loved performing in my teens; be it music, stand up or acting: I’ve always been an extravert.

    That all changed when I put on a ton of weight in my early twenties. My confidence diminished, I accepted that I was fat and hid from view, gave up on everything and resigned myself to a fate of sitting behind a desk for nine hours a day. Eating cake all the while.

    Now I’ve lost some weight (not all of it yet, dang it!) it’s as if I’ve unleashed my inner lunatic again. As if all that visceral fat was imprisoning a part of me, blunting my mind as well as my body.

    Now I sing and play guitar in a band and have started gigging regularly as a stand up too.

    I have my confidence back now, both to try new things but also to tolerate failure but keep trying anyway.

  4. Grok on August 12, 2010 at 00:19

    Hang gliding = bad ass.

    I’m going to have to try that some time ;)

    • Andrew Breese on August 12, 2010 at 20:05

      +1!! Hang gliding sounds & looks completely amazing, and this is the first time it’s seemed like a real thing in the real world.

  5. peterlepaysan on August 12, 2010 at 01:50

    Hey man, you have put a lot of effort into this site.

    Time out is very important.

    Take the time out, just breezin’ along.

    Hope you stay in touch with this site.

    OBTW there are a lot of parallels with going paleo and hang gliding, mountain climbing, etc etc.

    Best wishes.

  6. Felix Olschewski on August 12, 2010 at 02:22

    Richard, nice video.
    Lost passion? Yes, music. I stopped listening to and making music passionately when I went into video game development a couple of years ago. That was when my health declined as well.
    After “healing” myself with the new lifestyle I am finally returning to listening to music intensively, getting back to playing guitar and piano. Music is the only thing that touches me really deeply.
    By the way, my interest in health-blogging also started to decline when I reached my own goal. I don’t know how long I will keep doing it. Seems like the journey is more interesting than what we reached in the end.

  7. Mike Opteris on August 12, 2010 at 02:33

    Hey Richard,
    This way of living is about what makes us healthy, happy, and whole. If you head off to soar in the sky and forget about writing for awhile, all I can say is “go for it”. That and thanks for taking us along on your journey. I enjoyed it, and more importantly, learned from it as you’ve helped to make this middle-aged diabetic healthy and for that I’m eternally grateful. So, go do what makes you happy.
    Thanks and best wishes,

  8. Aaron Curl on August 12, 2010 at 03:26

    I’m the total opposite. The paleo lifestyle woke something up inside me and I learned this is my passion. I am getting personal training certificates and taking this life mainstream. I want to share how easy it is to be healthy. I want people to know they don’t have to run 100 miles a week to stay thin or they don’t have to spend 7 hours a week in the gym. Although the more time they spend in the gym the more money in my pocket. Maybe I won’t tell them the Richard, only you know what you want to do, I’m sure no one wants to see the end of this blog but its yours and your life. It’s all about the quality of life!

    • Paul C on August 12, 2010 at 06:27

      I’m with Aaron. I didn’t know what passion was until something awoke. Now I am trying to find a focus for that passion. It’s like dirt being scrubbed off of something really bright. Do I help other people find the brightness and does that become my focus? Do I focus on something for myself to explore how bright things can really get? That seems selfish in a way, or is it necessary to get to that place to discover limits, or lack of limits?

    • Richard Nikoley on August 12, 2010 at 10:07

      Well I sure count the paleo experience and blogging about it among my passions. That’s one I developed, of course. It’s just that now, particularly for activity that was too bothersome in my previous state, I can recapture things lost.

      It may not be the only thing. I used to ski a lot, too. Quit doing it when I was so heavy that my knees would ache after only one run down an advanced hill.

  9. Rod on August 12, 2010 at 05:14

    Wise men are always attracted to context. Health is about what we put in our bodies, how we think,how we move, and relationships.The nature of the beast is to do.Enjoy your doing Richard. The images of you “doing” are communicating a message as surely as your words of nutrition have.

  10. Marc on August 12, 2010 at 05:29

    Didn’t loose passion….but was jaded about “love”.
    Rediscovered it…and it’s better then ever.


  11. bart on August 12, 2010 at 05:42

    Nice F bomb in front of that kid in the opening :O oooops

    • Richard Nikoley on August 12, 2010 at 09:08

      His dad was doing the filming and mom was in earshot. It’s the way we roll. No oops at all. And we always say it like we mean it. Where I draw my personal line, of course, and they do too, is vulgarity is never used when talking TO him.

  12. Jim on August 12, 2010 at 05:46

    It’s going to break my heart if this blog slows down too much, Richard. I owe you, and in a few more pounds you’ll be getting my “success story” sent to you. I LOVE this site.

    But that hang gliding looks fun as hell, so who could blame you? =P


  13. Samantha Moore on August 12, 2010 at 06:45

    Richard- Wonderful post. My husband and I began eating paleo Jan 10/2010 and we haven’t looked back- except to feel shock that we were so dietarily duped for all those years. We have so much energy, ets… I could go on and on. I have really been enjoying your posts, and your strong energy, great recipes/pictures, and your put-it-out-there intelligence and viewpoint. You are an inspiration to me. Thank you for your great blog, and if you keep writing/posting- even once a year, I’ll keep reading.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 12, 2010 at 09:25

      I have no intention of stopping blogging. I’ve done it long enough — since ’03 — that I know well that the passion for it waxes & wanes. I do enjoy helping and of course, love and appreciate being one of the “popular” paleo/primal blogs. I’ll keep at it, but maybe a bit more quality over quantity, whatever that means. But who knows.

      I might devote some weekend posting time to my other personal passions and also encourage comment space for other to describe theirs. I’ll call it “Passion Blogging” os some other equally lame term. :)

  14. Ned Kock on August 12, 2010 at 06:55

    Richard, hand gliding is not natural (for land animals), therefore it is not paleo!

    Just kidding.

    Folks who haven’t seen you for a while probably wouldn’t recognize you. A Benjamin Button-like transformation:

    • Richard Nikoley on August 12, 2010 at 09:34

      Yea, Ned, I thought of talking about that.

      Even though you’re kidding, here’s a few things that come to mind. We are technology creating animals; think spears, stone knives, fire, and on and on — none “natural.” But they are natural in the sense that our ability to create technology for survival and happiness is an open ended aspect of us, and therefore natural in that sense.

      But there’s also the flying itself: gravity powered, using the energy of the sun and an airfoil to overcome and harness the gravity for forward motion. We use the weight of our bodies to twist the airfoil in such a way as to control direction (as well as control speed).

      Best of all, we often fly with the birds and get clues from then as to where the best lift is. While I’ve never flown with an Eagle (and they have been known to attack HG wings) I’ve flown with hawks many times. They’ll circle right along with you in a thermal, of fly a ridge in lift. Truly an amazing experience.

      • Ned Kock on August 12, 2010 at 13:42

        It sounds amazing Richard. I think I have done some of those things in the past, but only in dreams.

        I said I was kidding because driving cars, flying on commercial airplanes as a passenger, and typing on computers are also very unnatural things. Just to name a few non-paleo things that we do all the time.

        This reminds me a bit of the discussion we had here a while ago on paleo potatoes.

  15. John Nugent on August 12, 2010 at 08:00


    Hang gliding looks fucking dangerous. You’ve got balls.

    My passion is the sea and fresh water – swimming, body surfing and riding a surf ski.

    When I’m no longer a fat bastard, that’s what I want to get back in to.

    You look so fit and healthy in your video. Great transformation.

    Any chance you could outline a few meal suggestions some time?


    • Richard Nikoley on August 12, 2010 at 09:46


      Actually, HG is statistically very safe. Fatalities are lower for HG (in terms of fatalities per hour of activity) that for sailplanes or general aviation. Also lower than for skiing. That’s right. Your risk of dying skiing is greater than hang gliding (I also a ski, since the age of 6).

      The gear never fails. Never. Where people get killed is major compounding pilot error, and that’s usually associated with flying in marginal weather conditions (super high winds, super turbulent air, thunderstorms, etc.).

      The other thing is potential mid-airs. Check out this 43 second clip of a “gaggle” of HGs at the start area for a competition.

      I’ve seen stat gaggles with as many as 300 gliders essentially using the same lift. I’ve flown in gaggles myself with 30-50 other gliders. Of course, we have rules for how you fly in these situations.

      And check this out. Turkey vultures do the same thing.

      Unfortunately, they’re unreliable for judging whether the lift is sufficient for a HG. Eagles & hawks are, but evolution designed vultures with huge wings so they can stay up in bug farts, using almost no energy while they circle a kill waiting for their safe turn at the carcass.

  16. Lute Nikoley on August 12, 2010 at 12:53

    My passion many years ago was skiing. During the season (lived in Reno) I went skiing every week-end and during the week as long as I had PTO available. Got Richard started in that same passion nearly 45 years ago. Due to the high cost of lift tickets, etc. I gave it up after about 20-25 years of skiing.

    Then I took up another passion, golf, which I do to this day, usually once a week except when temperatures get into the 90’s or higher. I always walk the course. Well, maybe not always, depends on the terrain.

    Richard, I am really glad the the flame of passion in hang gliding has been re-kindled. Also my hope is that your paleo blogging passion will not wane. You have helped too many people, including me and your mom to stop or slow it down too much. We need the encouragement to keep going, and also the thousands of people who are out in the wings to yet have to discover this healthy and rewarding lifestyle.

  17. Jamie on August 12, 2010 at 16:40

    Richard, as one of the newer bloggers, I most certainly hope you keep your hand in it. I came to you via the Cordain & Sisson route, and whilst I love to read & learn all the technical stuff forwards and backwards, it was probably you and your writing style that inspired me to write. I wouldn’t have jumped inot this blogging malarky if I hadn’t seen the way you can freely express yourself. And as much as I want to learn all the physiology & biochemistry (that is the line of work I’m in), it is the likes of your raw experiences and real-world hacks that become important to the likes of me when dealing with & advising others. I don’t think you should ever underestimate the impact you have had on so many people.

    Some very hot Kiwi girls in that vid too!!


    Jamie, New Zealand.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 12, 2010 at 17:22

      That’s very interesting, Jamie. It’s a push pull thing with me to go raw in writing style as I often feel I went to far.

      But when I think about it I reason that if you’re not feeling like you went too far then you are probably not going far enough.

  18. William on August 12, 2010 at 18:21

    Come to think of it, I never did receive a black belt in Aikido. Odd, seeing that aikido was once my biggest passion. Aside of a few philosophical issues I had with many “new ager” types who infiltrated the aikido world, I stopped mainly because I felt beat up all the time. Of course the same beat up feeling managed to persist post aikido, but that has stopped since going paleo.

    I turn fifty-six in a couple of weeks, and lately, have been suckered into what was going to be a mere glimpse in watching aikido demonstrations on YouTube. What happened was my viewing turned into an embarrassing amount of hours, longing for a time gone passed. I think I’m starting to feel the ol’ passion firing up again.

  19. TrailGrrl on August 12, 2010 at 18:26

    Ditto on martial arts. Just started back with JKD, mixing it up with Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Felt to heavy before. Now I almost think I could get in shape like the muay thai fighters and run around with a bare midsection.


  20. CC on August 13, 2010 at 21:21

    With me, it’s getting back to a passion of being an active person. When I was in elementary school, I played baseball and basketball on competitive teams. I spent most days after school and on weekends rollerblading, jumping on the trampoline, riding my bike all over the place, or playing basketball and rollerblading at the same time (soooo much fun!). I remember being able to do 7 pullups in gym class. Then I hit middle school, started to feel intimidated by my athletic ability compared to my peers, and got so totally stressed out by schoolwork that I stopped finding time to go outside. Fast forward through high school, college, 2 pregnancies and breastfeeding, and here I am, 28 years old and a way-too-skinny weakling. I want so badly to get back to that active lifestyle. I have paleo eating down, but I find that as soon as I try to start exercising I am so tired I can’t function, feel extremely faint, or I injure myself. I just downloaded Mark Sisson’s free ebook, and I’m hoping that if I start slow I can somehow get back to some semblance of my younger, stronger, athletic self.
    Thank you for this post; now I have my eyes on the prize again!

    • Richard Nikoley on August 14, 2010 at 09:28


      “I want so badly to get back to that active lifestyle. I have paleo eating down, but I find that as soon as I try to start exercising I am so tired I can’t function, feel extremely faint, or I injure myself.”

      As you also mention you’re skinny/weak, perhaps you were undereating on your previous diet and now you’re still doing so, only with higher quality food.

      I have found great benefits in purposefully eating way more than I normally would, but only a few meals a week, typically post workout meals where, I’ll occasionally consume 1,500 kcal in a single meal, with lowish fat and moderate carb (maybe a medium or large potato) but holy shit amounts of protein (I use lean sources in these instances; otherwise, fatty).

      One way to approach the question is, does the eating fuel the energy for the higher activity, or does the eating replenish spent energy? It’s a false dichotomy, in my view. It’s an integrated whole and both aspects are in play, push & pull, a little here, a setback there, gain here and there. Ultimately, you want to be in a place where you’re consuming sufficient nutrition and total energy (kcals) that you’re pretty much always at the ready and then you replenish after going as hard as you want for as long as you want. But you have to start somewhere.

      We didn’t get to be this way through any sort of natural mechanism. We listened to all the bogus health advice all our lives, or nothing at all and ate what was available and we liked, like a junkyard dog. So it’s not necessarily a wholly natural path out and in your case I’m pretty confident that a few weeks of increased consumption with really quality food might do wonders to get you to a place where you can maintain high energy levels and then you’re off on the natural way.

      Give it a try. Here’s a suggestion.

      1st week:

      M-W-F eat lowish fat, moderate carb (starch; like potatoes, sweet potatoes or some such) and sky high protein, like 1.5g per pound of body weight.

      T-T-S-S eat to your comfortable fill with an eye towards getting full; high fat, low carb, high protein still, but about 1g per pound of bodyweight.

      Don’t do workouts this first week. Beginning 2nd week, start doing the exercises, and do them M-W-F in advance of your first meal and make that the biggest one.

      It might be unpleasant, for a while but as the energy comes up you ought to be able to transition to a more comfortable mode of eating, not counting anything, but with a heightened sense of what you need to maintain.

      If you give it a go, let us know how it went.

  21. CC on August 14, 2010 at 19:29

    Thank you thank you thank you for the advice. I will definitely try it out this week coming up and let you know!

  22. AllanF on August 16, 2010 at 20:30

    Hello Richard,

    Not sure you are still working on the book, but I think the final chapter being along these lines would be perfect. It puts the effort into proper context… sure, it’s great to be lean and healthy, but as a goal in and of itself, it pales in comparison to the quality of life from chasing one’s true passion and calling.

    And to make it really punch I think it needs to be a seamless part of the narrative, not merely a post script. It’s the logical conclusion of these lifestyle changes, not merely a cherry on top of the sundae. Good luck!

    • Richard Nikoley on August 18, 2010 at 18:05

      I’m not actively working on a book.

      I’m considering other possibilities as a way to drive it forward and make it credible. With Mark’s book, deVany’s coming out and now Wolfe’s, I simply don’t want to compete with that at this level. I’m a business guy. Worst thing you can do is just press on when the situation changes.

      I missed the window. But that’s only the current reality.

      • AllanF on August 18, 2010 at 21:35

        Well, that makes a lot of sense. I’ll stand by my comment though, whatever you decide to do, I think showing people that lean and healthy while an admirable end, in truth pales in comparison to lean and healthy as a means to recapturing one’s lost passions in life. Further, recapturing one’s lost passions are the natural and inevitable result of making various paleo lifestyle changes.

        Perhaps something to think about… or not. Regardless, all my best.

      • Richard Nikoley on August 18, 2010 at 21:39

        Good stutff to chew on, allan.

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