Husky. That’s what they used to call me. It also happened to be the name of the jeans that I wore. Husky jeans, for a husky boy. I can remember the tears rolling down my face as I tried on a pair of “non-husky” jeans, I couldn’t even get them over my thighs. That was 9 years old, and by sixteen I was, depressed and still battling with food. Being overweight has always been a struggle for me, and still is, I’m human. Only when I was able to throw out conventional wisdom about food and exercise and to think about it critically some clarity arrived. I am going to share with you what I have learned on my rollercoaster ride through health and fitness over the past twenty years, condensed of course.
I’m underappreciated. You’re underappreciated. But, the most underappreciated thing on earth, is water, and we may soon come to regret that. Our bodies are made up of 50% to 60% water. That should be a hint right there. Possibly one of the most complex organisms that exist, consists of over half water. The hint is that water is gold, and should be treated as such. We know that water plays a huge part in moving toxins, and other waste out of our bodies. The more often that you can replace the existing water in our body with fresh water, the healthier you will be. Think about a fish tank. The pump constantly recirculates the water, filtering it, and then replacing it. We need to be urinating often, emptying the tank, and then replacing that with new fresh, clean water. We are the pump. Don’t let your tank get dirty!
So how much water? Lbs/2.2 x Age/28.3. Ok, seriously are you an Olympian? Probably not, so just drink a lot of water. Maybe a gallon a day. You can drink too much water though, so don’t go too crazy. Don’t drown, swim.
Nutrition & Intermittent Fasting
This is by far the most complicated area and the most important for success. We are all so different and our bodies require and tolerate different things. Nutrition is the area of health that must be thought about from a critical perspective, both in general and regarding what works for you. First, we have to keep in mind that we are taking the majority of our advice from a system that is basically killing us. We have arrived in the future, hello, why have we still not moved entirely towards preventative medicine? Even UPS practices preventative maintenance on their vehicles, but we still haven’t learned to do the same for our bodies? Why do we still let people get sick, only to try to fix them after the fact at great pain and expense? With that said we have to find our own answers, following the status quo will have your life-saving in the hands of your caregivers, trust me.
I have tried a hundred diets. I have had a nutritionist. I have counted calories, and I have performed diets and exercises with religious discipline, and though some were successful, it was really hard. Too hard. Here is what we know. Scientists are more or less positive that a reduction in calories leads to an extension of life. Yes, it is that simple, eat less to live longer, and almost inevitably healthier. This makes sense. Our bodies are engines. When we eat, we are running that engine up a hill. The less we eat the more that engine is able to rest. So what happens when that engine is at rest? That’s when all the magic happens. When your body is not spending all your hard earned energy on digesting, it is able to redirect it elsewhere, like repairing your cells. It has a name if you want to get all technical, it’s called autophagy. For example, when you become extremely busy, your house suffers. You are in, and you are out, but you just can’t seem to find the time to clean the house, or “put yourself back together.” Our bodies are no different. Stuffing our face at breakfast starts the engine, and for most of us, it doesn’t stop, ever. Late night snacks are great! Fifth meals are even better! The problem is that we are digesting even in our sleep. If you want a healthy body, healthy in the sense that it is actively repairing itself, you have got to break your plate, aka, stop fucking eating so much. Water is non-negotiable, you must have lots if you want to look and feel great, 70fl oz/day at least. Nutrition is more flexible. It depends more on what you want to accomplish, and how much pain you are willing to endure.
Let’s talk Intermittent Fasting (IF). In short, this means that there are certain hours of the day that you do not eat or drink anything with calories. This type of eating schedule allows your body time to stop digesting, and start rebuilding. There is still scientific debate regarding IF and what effects it may or may not have. For our purposes, this style of eating gives people an easy to follow framework for reducing calorie intake overall throughout the day. People who follow this type of eating schedule report common benefits such as weight loss, improved mood, increased clarity, and simplicity. If you are someone who is less prone to overeating you might set a window to eat between 4-8 hours. If you are more likely to overeat, you will want to set a window of between 1-4 hours. Either scenario will be difficult for someone who is adapted to a conventional eating schedule. Don’t get me started on what the human body is able to adapt to. Let’s just say it is far greater than this. The goal is just to eat the proper amount of calories during your eating window. How many calories? I am not going to get into that either, but men and women require different amounts of calories based on their activity level, age, and health goals. My advice, download My Fitness Pal and do what it tells you to do. The future has arrived remember.
Now that we have addressed how to eat, we need to determine what to eat. By eating during a restricted time window, the likely outcome will be a natural reduction in calories. You must ask yourself what is your end goal, and how much you want to endure to accomplish that goal. The end goal for everyone should be to eat no processed foods whatsoever. None. If it doesn’t grow, walk, swim, or fly then don’t eat it. Realistically this may be out of range for many, and that’s ok. But, all processed food is bad for you in one way or another. Eat foods that are real. That’s it. Tens of thousands of articles about how to eat, and equally as many processed foods to choose from. Billions of dollars spent advertising to groom you as to which things are good, and which are bad. Being educated by someone that is trying to sell you something is, well its what’s been happening for at least the past 30 years. If not longer. It’s totally crazy! Do you want to be healthy? Then eat real food. You will find that it is more difficult to overeat when you eat whole foods. If you find yourself still consuming too many calories, shorten your eating window to compensate. You will either consume fewer calories because of the smaller eating window or become a competitive eater.
Below are some guidelines from beginner to expert. How bad do you want it? Of course, these are just suggestions. Anything is better than what we are doing currently. Go outside. Turn on your car, and just let it run. That is what we are doing be eating “three square meals” each day. Determine how much healing your body needs, then how many calories, feed it the right whole foods, then give it time to pick up after itself. It’s that simple.
Bronze: No Restrictions 16/8 -Eating for 8hrs
Silver: Partial Processed Foods 20/4 – Eating for 4hrs
Gold: Only Whole Foods 23/1 – Eating for 1hr
- Lemon, Apples, Blueberries
- Walnuts, Almonds, Brazil Nuts
- Kale, Spinach, Broccoli
- Avocado, Olive Oil, Salmon
- Potatoes, Garlic, Beans, Lentils
- Tea, Dark Chocolate
Most people don’t want to look like themselves, they want to look like that! Yeah, that cover model, that athlete, that actor. I hate to break it to you but it just doesn’t work that way. So if someone says your big boned, or your just built that way. They may be at least partly right. A few things play a role in what type of look you can accomplish. Genetics for one. This is what they were right about. If you want to be as tiny as a runway model, or as big as The Rock, then you have to have the right genes. You will absolutely be able to make improvements, but going from Yoda to Skywalker you will not. But if you want to feel good and look good, exercise is important, but not as much as you would think. It takes very little exercise each day or week to feel really great if you are following these guidelines. If you are going for a certain look, however, expect to make a career out of exercising. The same way the person you want to look like does. Which brings us to the insight that took me decades of tears and fatness to figure out. If you want to look like a kickboxer you won’t get there training like a golfer. Similarly, you will not accomplish that goal training like a bodybuilder or yoga instructor. You have got to train like a kickboxer. If you are able to train similar to one, you will look similar too. If you are able to train just as they do, you will look just as they do, or as close as your genes will allow. Careful what you wish for.
Did I mention that you have to drink a lot of water? One thing that can kill the benefits of water is alcohol. If you drink a lot of alcohol or eat too much dairy, I find it negates the effects of proper hydration. But the one area that will devalue all others is recovery. Sleep. You need to get at least 6.236558 hours per night. Seriously, we’re so similar, yet so different. The most important thing is to listen to your body. There is nothing attentive about instructing your body when it is time to sleep. We have learned not to listen. We must now learn how to listen and listen closely. We know when our body needs rest. We just have to be more proactive about filling our “recovery savings account” before it becomes depleted. By the time you drop your belongings next to the door and zombie towards the sofa, it is too late, your on sleep credit. Make rest a priority.
If you can not pull yourself away from that life sucking square black hole, then roll off the couch and start stretching. The only thing that can make even husky boy feel unwarrantedly fit, is being flexible. I’ve been fat, and I’ve been fat and flexible. I will choose to be able to touch my toes any day. Note that being fat and flexible can lead to a boost in self-confidence that could lead to delusional thoughts that you are in a better shape than you are and deserve extra dessert. You’ve been warned. Flexibility is like water, in that it provides a huge bump to the way you feel, and should be treated as non-negotiable. Flexibility is something that improves rapidly. Two weeks of stretching every day for 15-20min will have you feeling like a beginner gymnast. So don’t be discouraged if you are completely inflexible today. Think about the many animals, that are stretching all the time, and so should you.
Pillars of Fitness
- Hydration (D)
- Nutrition (D)
- Flexibility (D)
- Recovery (D)
I believe that we all can achieve great health with relatively little effort. The majority of our health concerns arise from the things that we ingest or don’t. We make poor choices when it comes to food because that is what is expected of us. There are vested interests and billions spent to encourage you to make poor, or ill-advised choices. I by no means have a perfect diet. I do however have a mantra that I am working towards living by. “Never eat from the hand of man, but only from the land of Mother.”
Disclaimer: I have studied health and fitness off and on for the last 15+ years. I am not a licensed fitness professional. I am not qualified to give fitness advice, I am only sharing with you what has worked for me. I encourage you to do your own research to find out what works for you. I always consult my physician when I am trying something new and so should you. Don’t make changes to your diet or exercise without consulting your physician. But don’t be surprised if they are only willing to give conventional recommendations.