The Art Of Eating Like A Warrior
To find health, go back in time.
The human species. Not the fastest, or the strongest, or even most efficient to procreate. We cannot run as fast or as long, we cannot hear as well. Our sense of smell is weak in comparison to many other species, we can't even swim as well as most of the animals we share this planet with. But the human species has effectively conquered all it's predators, we have found ways to live longer and make the planet's resources work for us and only us. We have become the masters of our world, and are now being brought down by our own supremacy over nature. This is the price of collective gluttony and laziness.
The obesity epidemic. The final sign that evolution, as far as the human race is concerned, has simply stopped. Just mere centuries ago, a few ticks of the second hand in geological terms, we were running full tilt to attempt to catch our breakfast, lunch, and if we were lucky and hadn't become lunch for another creature, dinner.
In prehistoric times we required a way to distinguish safe food from dangerous substances. Our taste buds evolved to protect us and guide us towards nutrients and foods that could sustain and keep us healthy. Our brains evolved to help us adapt to severe climates and develop technologies that would help us produce and store food through droughts and severe winters.
Those very brains have advanced us to the point that getting food is as easy as walking into the next room or driving down to the corner store. And those highly adapted taste buds have been relegated to instruments defined solely for pleasure, seeking out items that not only do not sustain us, but they are detrimental, poisonous, in fact. Through the achievements of the industrial revolution, we have practically eliminated the physical effort from our day to day existence and have eliminated the nutrients from our food.
Ok, this is not a new concept. Books such as "The Caveman's Diet" and, "The Paleolithic Diet" came out in the mid-eighties. But even those titles are missing a major point. My problem is with the word "diet". The caveman's "diet" was whatever he or she could chase down and catch, or climb up to, or bend down and gather. If the caveman had access to it, and it passed the poison test they would have eaten it to avoid starvation.
Now here's my point, they had to work to get it and I mean physically, not sitting down in a cubicle strapped to a keyboard for eight hours straight. What surprises me is how such an easy concept is still being missed by the majority of the populace.
True understanding of nutrition is daunting in it's complexity. There are many variables; basal metabolism, hormone levels, genetic predispositions and many other factors can impact what you see in the mirror and on the scale.If you have battled obesity you start to feel like you need a P.H.D. just to decipher what the men in lab coats are spewing at you.
In this article I would like to point out that if you just want to live healthier, and get started on that path, before buying into the diet book hype, you should start with a simple observation.
You must eat natural foods. You must work physically to merit the food you ingest. To achieve balance and healthy weight, eat simple natural food and get up and exercise. The human body is an organic mechanism and it is meant to walk, to run, to jump, to throw and swim! Without these activities, denying yourself calories is only going to result in sporadic weight loss and discouraging relapses. Crash diets do exactly that. They crash. Atkins, South Beach, Zone...they all miss the point. You have to commit to healthy activity and a lot of it.
Here's some tips :
Start your day with a moderate healthy meal with a lot of fiber (if you don't know what healthy food is, pick up a copy of "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan) and get hydrated (Coffee is not a substitute for water yet that is the only thing some people drink in the morning... are you one of those people?). Skipping breakfast sends a message to your body that you are in starvation mode because you haven't eaten since the prior evening. So as a defense, your body's metabolism will slow down to save fuel. Guess where your extra fuel gets stored? That's right. In your fat cells.
After breakfast, eat early, eat often, and eat small (six to eight times a day small meals slightly bigger than your fist an apple is a good example). The earlier you get up to eat, the better to shut down that starvation mechanism and to give you time for a morning workout. Snacking on natural fibrous foods will keep your metabolism working, your digestive tract running smoothly and keep you from getting hungry which will cause you to overeat.
Imagine you live in another era. If you are craving a steak, with mashed potatoes and gravy and sourdough toast. Imagine then if you had to trek for miles to find the game, stalk it for another mile or two, kill it, butcher it, haul it back to your home and cut up firewood to cook it and finally eat it. Then imagine all the work it took to farm the potato, and harvest the grain it took to make the bread. In other words use your imagination to construct the 1600 calorie workout that it takes to earn that meal. Combining both cardiovascular (trekking for miles) and resistance training (hauling the game, chopping the firewood) into that workout will build lean muscle. Muscle tissue is active tissue and hence burns more calories even at rest. Fat is non-active and will only accumulate more energy stores at rest.
Add the effort cost of the food into your daily schedule not just the monetary cost. If you have time to watch an hour of news and your favorite reality show, you have time to work out for an hour or two a day. No excuses. You might find it a lot easier to cut back when you imagine the effort cost for each piece of food (biking for twenty miles and lifting weights for twenty minutes for that steak), and fruits and vegetables start sounding a lot more appetizing when you imagine just walking out to the garden and picking them. I think if people had to butcher an animal themselves to get meat you would find a lot more vegetarians in the country.
Finally you will have to learn to use your taste buds in a new way. The poisons in our world have gotten more sophisticated and now have a marketing industry backing them up. Instead of a bitter taste signifying poison, it is now the super sweet and the fat and greasy that needs to be avoided at all costs or at least used in extreme moderation. If you train your mind to recognize the chocolate eclair as the source of diabetes, clogged arteries, stroke, and cancer. You will have an easier time with willpower.
Limit alcohol. Alcohol depresses your metabolism. Alcohol is converted by your organs into sugar which if not used in the blood then gets stored as fat. Alcohol also stimulates your appetite and reduces your inhibitions and impairs your judgement.
Finally, avoid the pills and powders and quick fixes, they don't work for health. There is no magic bullet when it comes to metabolism. If a pill works to reduce your weight quickly, it is not doing it in a healthy way and it will cost you in the end. Ephedra is a prime example. It cranks up your caloric burn rate, but jacks up your blood pressure and causes heart attacks and strokes. It is now banned after much misery and suffering from misguided individuals who tried it.
In closing, I urge Americans to live like the warriors of old. Eat natural foods. If you have a back yard, tear up some of that ridiculous sod and grow your own vegetables and fruits. Get off the couch and walk to the store! don't drive! Avoid factory farmed, fast foods, and ultra processed things that pass for food.
I wish you all the best of luck in your fitness endeavors.
For a great cardio workout check out this video from my IDEA World Fitness Convention presentation
- Authentic Cardio Boxing
This DVD details how to get back to the authentic fundamentals of pugilism by learning to perform actual boxing techniques that are derived from the ring, thereby adding a shot of adrenaline to your cardio workouts.
For more innovations in fitness check out thecybergym.com
- TheCybergym - Home
Workouts, Fitness tips, Equipment, and more.