Monthly Archives: February 2013

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

The title lists a very simple equation, and yet the solution seems to evade so many people. Let me write it out again:

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

It’s not to say that Hard Work is more important than Nutrition – I just happened to list them alphabetically. The opposite is probably true that proper nutrition will benefit you more long-term than hard work if you could only pick one. By Hard Work, I mean strenuous, physically-exerting exercise. And by Proper Nutrition, I mean eating foods that are actually good for the body (that’s a dissertation in itself) and getting proper sleep and hydration.

I often run into people that I haven’t seen in awhile, and they typically remark how much thinner and more fit I look. Of course, they want to know what I’ve been doing to achieve my level of fitness. When I tell them about my workouts and changed eating habits, their peaked interest usually dwindles. It amazes me that practical living and hard work are a major turnoff to people. I mean, when you see how hard people will work to live in a certain community or get to a certain position at work, it’s obvious that hard work is not a foreign concept to them; and they seem to have enough common sense that they would seriously evaluate the food their body intakes.

Let me reiterate:

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

There are no quick fixes or magic potions that will turn you from a lump of dough to a fit, vibrant person. It will take hard, strenuous work. I have stated it before, but I am a strong advocate of working out with kettlebells and bodyweight exercise.

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The benefits are clear:

  1. You will get strong
  2. You don’t need much space
  3. You don’t need to go to a gym
  4. You don’t need to make much of a financial commitment
  5. You can accomplish a lot of hard work in a fairly short period of time

It will take some effort to research the foods you eat, read the labels, understand what ingredients/foods/medicines are good or bad for you, make well-informed food purchases, plan and prepare nutritious meals, etc.

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Again, the benefits are clear:

  1. If you are overweight, you will lose weight
  2. You will be healthier with a stronger immune system
  3. You will have more natural energy (this will fit perfectly into your strenuous workouts)
  4. You will be likely live longer
  5. You will maintain the weight your body was designed to support and your joints will thank you profusely for that

The solution to true fitness couldn’t really be this simple, could it? If you read most of the trendy health and fitness magazines, then to them, the answer is no. There’s always a new gimmick workout or diet (or even diet pill). There’s a huge industry devoted to the millions of people who keep futilely chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

If you truly want to live a longer, healthier life where…

  • You are physically strong
  • You are able to run and play with your kids (or grandkids)
  • You wear normal clothing sizes
  • You get sick less often
  • You won’t need an untimely knee replacement
  • You won’t increase your risk of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

Then review the formula 1 more time:

True Fitness = Hard Work + Proper Nutrition

Decide today to be equally committed to both components of the solution, and you will be the better for it. Don’t expect many others to join you, but hey, you are living your life in your body. Only you can directly change and affect you.

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‘Off Day’ Workout

Awhile back, I discussed critiquing your own form to detect flaws in order to improve and reduce risk of injury. Here’s a brief workout I completed doing 1-arm and 2-arm swings with a kettlebell as well as some pushups.

As I edited the video, there were several flaws that were evident. Probably the one that jumped out the most to me was how my knees dip down on my pushups, and as a result, my entire body is not pushing up as 1 ramrod straight unit.

Anyway, this should give you a little insight in how little space you need to be able to complete the workout.

The best part of this video is (1) you don’t have to hear a word or noise from me, and (2) you can watch my wife wash dishes at landspeed record in the background!

Enjoy and comment, if you will.

Understanding Ingredients and Buying Local

As I mentioned in previous posts, I could not have cared less about the healthiness of the food that I ate. Quantity certainly trumped quality.

When I was going through a self-discovery phase early last year and examining the foods that I ate, I realized that I didn’t really know most of what I was consuming. Sure, I got chicken from the store, but how was the chicken raised and fed? I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. I certainly liked the taste of something as unnutritional as Pop Tarts, but they tasted good to me so I ate them. I don’t want to bore you with what I ate compared to what I eat now…

I started to examine the ingredients found in the food products that I ate. In fact, I was that guy standing in the grocery store looking at the back of a food product and googling it on my Android (sorry, Apple fans). I still do that on occasion. I also watched a lot of documentaries about food on NetFlix – obviously, I digested this information with a grain of salt (pun intended), but the fact of the matter was, I was eating a lot of things that were either genetically modified, produced in an inhumane or unhealthy way, or was just generally unhealthy.

Of course it was eye-opening to truly understand how bad things like fructose (or high fructose corn syrup), ‘natural’ and artificial flavorings, nitrates, grain-fed cows producing milk and beef, MSG and other seemingly innocuous ingredients are for you. I became determined to do my best to start understanding ingredient levels, learn what is truly good for human consumption, and slowly migrate away from the bad foods. It is clear to me (remember this is my opinion) that most major food producing companies are only interested in profit to the point of adding ingredients to food products that serve to addict and create regular, repeat purchases even at the detriment to the health of the consumer.

It is kind of crazy to think about because I doubt that our predecessors had to worry about how their food was produced, packaged, genetically modified, etc. Regardless, it’s a fact of life that we do, and for all the bad companies mass producing relatively unhealthy food products for the masses, there are just as many (sometimes the same companies) producing ‘healthy’ alternative food products that turn out to not be so healthy when you truly dig into the ingredients. There is so much information and angles to consider with this topic that 1 blog post certainly can’t even begin to scratch the surface.

All that to say this – know what you eat. I heard a good rule of thumb – don’t eat foods with ingredients that you cannot pronounce. No, I haven’t built a bunker and started a life of isolation away from society, but I am fortunate to live in a state (the good old northwest suburbs of Philly) where there are still (for now) many farms that are committed to values such as non-GMO, organic, grassfed, free range, etc. I am able to buy dairy products such as cheese, raw milk (that’s another deep dive discussion), and eggs that come from farms within 45 minutes from my house. I have started to make it a point to buy free-range, grassfed beef or free-range chicken.

I haven’t made any radical changes in my life – and my checkbook certainly hasn’t grown by leaps and bounds. Generally speaking, here’s a list of what I try to adhere to:

  • I know what I eat
  • I avoid high consumption of fructose and attempt to avoid high fructose corn syrup entirely
  • I buy local as often as I can, especially dairy and meats (support local products and know where they come from) – I don’t want the hormones, nitrates, or anything like that
  • I am ok with eating smaller portions since I know that the food product is better for me
  • Obviously, horribly unhealthy tings like soda are no go (diet soda is even worse – it amazes me how many people drink it)
  • I started eating lots of healthy greens (my mother would be so proud) – you have to be careful with salad dressings – Bragg makes a good salad dressing that is low in calories
  • I have made slow, incremental changes to the ingredients I add to my coffee (goodbye flavored creamer)
  • Limit my intake of breads, grains, and corn
  • Eat Greek yogurt every day (I do not swear off dairy completely like some people do)
  • For the most part, avoid fruit juices (the only juice I let my kids drink is unfiltered, pasteurized organic apple juice)
  • Do a meal list every week and stick to it – it will help you better plan your grocery shopping and eating more healthy
  • Don’t be afraid to be different from a lot of your friends
  • There are other things that I can’t think of at the moment, but the important thing is, always continue to learn (I might change my mind about a food product or ingredient that I previously thought was healthy or unhealthy) – (1. learn from others, 2. try new foods and recipes, 3. research food types and various ingredients, 4. understand how the different food products are produced and where they come from, etc.)

Well, that’s enough for now – even for a guy, I can talk a blue streak. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in the last year or so, you can’t really take this topic too seriously. Here’s to a healthy 2013 eating food the way it was meant to be produced and consumed!

Comment to agree, disagree, or add to the discussion!