In one of my previous posts about Hawaii, I briefly mentioned my new morning routine inspired and taught to me by Tanner Martty. Here’s more about the single most important factor in my current daily life…
Standing in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s at 9:15am I noticed the cashier giving me a funny stare. I think my body language and facial expression signaled that it was okay to ask the lingering question on her mind.
Cashier: “You seem really happy this morning. Do you always have this much energy in the morning?”
Me: “Yup. But I’ve been up since 5am. It’s really not that early for me.”
Cashier: “5am? Wow, that’s early. You start work at 5?”
I guess it’s time to quit my job. As a fitness and lifestyle coach, I’ve consistently focused the majority of my nutritional consulting on coaching clients to choose whole, organic foods. You may have heard the trendy acronym circulating around the fitness industry, JERF – Just Eat Real Food. Food largely determines our state of health and fitness, and 80% of the nutrition battle is picking foods as close to their natural state as possible, in other words, real food. The rest is determined by the biochemical, behavioral, social, and cultural individuality of the person.
If you haven’t heard of Josh Waitzkin, you may want to look him up. He was a child chess prodigy, a champion martial arts competitor, and a best-selling author. He’s one of those guys you either love and respect or hate with an intense passion. Why? He’s the kid in class who sets the curve without seeming to put forward any effort while everyone else pulled all-nighters and spent the entire morning mentally repeating definitions from their flash cards. You see Josh has an uncanny ability to be awesome at anything he chooses to do. That’s why I initially picked up his book, The Art of Learning, four years ago. To this day, his book remains one of the most influential pieces of my ongoing entrepreneurial journey.
December 21, 2012 is fast approaching. I’m not really one to believe in Mayan prophecies or ‘End of the World’ folktales, but even Wikipedia has a page devoted to the 2012 phenomenon. Some my friends even think that 2012 will bring on the Zombie Apocalypse. For some reason this seems more believable since I recently read a man in Miami ate the face off some other old guy. Turns out it was probably the result of smoking bath salts. Or just a wicked case of the munchies. Whatever, it was drugs. Regardless, whether it’s the end of Modern Civilization, a zombie takeover, or an army of cannibal bath-salt smokers, I want to be prepared just in case shit hits the fan. For these reasons (not really) and because I thought it would be fun and educational, I did a two day survival skills course with Tom Coyne and the Survival Training School of California (STSC) in Tehachapi, just two hours north of Los Angeles.
I noticed over the last few months that my friends and team at LEAF were spending longer hours at the gym, even when they had finished up with their evening clients. Coincidentally, this happened most often on nights when I practiced techniques taught by The New School of Cooking.
Once my mind made the connection, my peers’ after-hours presence made perfect sense.
It’s simple actually. You are fat because you eat processed chemicals instead of real food. You are fat because you lock your windows and prevent fresh air from circulating through your home and your lungs. You are fat because you wear makeup and cosmetics filled with poisons you wouldn’t swallow, yet willingly rub on you skin, the largest organ of your body. You are fat because you consume more sugar in a day than our ancestors did in one year. You are fat because you hate your job and you do nothing about it. You are fat because you sit or sleep for a total of 23 hours of the day. You are fat because you blame your genes for being fat instead of the cake and ice cream. You are fat because when you wake up in the morning, a time when your natural circadian rhythm dictates you have the most circulating cortisol, you drink coffee because you didn’t get enough sleep, which places even more stress on the body. You are also fat because of your lack of sleep. You are fat because you drink just one or two alcoholic beverages per day. You are fat because you accept that food is food, regardless of quality and source. You are fat because you are depressed. You are fat because of your nagging injury that you’ve yet to deal with appropriately, which requires that your body constantly expend energy trying to heal itself. You are fat because your liver is burdened with all the pain pills, supplements, and drugs pumped daily through the body. You are fat because you didn’t have time to work out today… for the last six months. You are fat because your scar was never treated or healed appropriately, causing inflammation to chronically circulate through the body. This will continue to expend energy until the scarring is resolved. You are fat because the environment in which you live is toxic. You are fat because you are dehydrated. You are fat because you stress too much about being fat. You are fat because of the way you live.
Death by Bacon? A Rebuttal.
I woke up this morning with texts and emails from a few concerned clients. They sent me news articles and quotes from articles posted by NPR, LA Times, and a few prominent vegetarian bloggers. The headlines were crystal clear: Eat red meat at your own risk. Meat was being singled out as the risk factor for premature death.
It’s easy to point out all the differences between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. We have intricate forms of communication, create technologies that allow us to visit neighboring planets, and, except for some recent dolled up celebrity dogs, wear a wide variety of clothing that is anything but useful for animals in the wild. As much as we have attempted to separate ourselves from our roots, we share the same basic functions: eliminating waste, sleeping, and reproducing, the fundamental functions of all life on earth. It’s safe to assume that if something is wrong with these, one should investigate the underlying cause. Unfortunately, that rarely seems to happen. After an unhealthy meal that leaves us lethargic, bloated and tired, we pat our stomach with a sense of pride. Twelve hours later we clench our stomach as we have a painful bowel movement. We disregard the quality of our sleep and spend the following day in a zombie-like state as our hand refuses to let go of a coffee mug. We accept our diminished sex drive as normal and in so doing lose our most effective and natural stress-reducing tool. Any program focused on your health and well being should start with these three functions.
Isn’t it strange that humans are the only animals on earth that debate about what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat? Disease, obesity, and disorders are absent in the wild yet they are now accepted as commonplace within “civilized” human societies. Well, that is not entirely true. The select few wild animals that have been domesticated by humans also suffer from many of the same health conditions that torment our society today (*cough* irony *cough*). It seems that with the evolutionary gift of self-awareness and abstract thought also came the curse of disconnecting from nature. We have forgotten how to live, and in turn, what to eat. The truth is humans are omnivores. We are a lucky bunch that gets to eat a wide variety of delicious goodies provided by Mother Nature. We have digestive freedoms and capabilities that have allowed for evolutionary success over the last few million years. In times of famine, our species utilizes creative ways of finding, cultivating, and preparing foods that would be impossible for other species. Yet even with this breadth of time-tested knowledge and practice, we eat unhealthily. There’s no arguing that. Two important factors contribute significantly, but not completely, to this phenomenon.
For the first part of the three part blog post, click here.
What does “organic” even mean? While it can highlight truly healthy foods, it can also fool unsuspecting consumers into falsely believing an unhealthy food is actually healthy. The USDA actually has four different levels of “organic” labeling (see below). It’s interesting that food can be partially organic. To me, it’s actually comical. It’s either organic or not. That hazy middle ground means cutting corners and using shortcuts to maintain organic status. That doesn’t sound fair to the health conscious consumer and results in a whole lot of confusion in the grocery store. This predicament is not limited to the term “organic.” Countless terms are thrown