I’ve been a personal trainer for over 7 years. If you’ve seen it I’ve done it (mostly). There’s more information I’ve forgotten than I remember at this point. However, there are 3 conclusions I’ve drawn from my years of training myself and others. Many mistakes were made along the way but these 3 rules seem to encompass the very essence of what it means to live a healthy and fit life.
#1 The BEST form of internal medicine is FOOD
It shouldn’t surprise you that if you eat well you live well. There have been, and still are, various diets throughout the world. Different people, different diets. While varied they all had 1 thing in common; their food was real. Real meat, real grains, real vegetables, real fruits, real dairy, real everything! However, there was a massive shift in how we obtained food in the 1950s and 1960s. The changes to our food industry brought about mass quantities of food with a longer lifespan. All great things until you realize how our food was made. Synthetic, chemically protected/altered, hormone injected, pesticide induced, and so on. And now, 60 years later, we’re reaping the ‘benefits’ of corporate greed and our poorly informed choices: massive increase in heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, down syndrome, cancers, and more. Trying to eat well has become complicated when it should in fact be the opposite. Our ancestors didn’t have to think about the quality of food, the amounts they ate, where it came from, or how it was grown or raised. They just ate it, enjoyed it, and were better off for it. It’s time we began treating food as our ancestors did; make them REAL again.
If we eat real vegetables, real meats, real everything we live longer, better lives. We are more productive people. We are happier people. We are better people. It’s time we didn’t see cooking healthy food as a chore. It’s time we stopped seeing it as a punishment. See it as a reward. See it as good. See it for what it is; the fountain of youth and health.
#2 The BEST form of physical medicine is MOVEMENT
We are humans. Humans are mammals. And mammals move! We are endurance machines. We are designed, by nature or G-d (take your pick), to move all the time. You may not feel that way right now but your ancestors did. My ancestors did. They didn’t see movement as an obstacle in their daily lives. Hiking 5 miles to get water wasn’t seen as a chore. Hunting or raising animals for food wasn’t seen as burden. Growing crops, picking vegetables and fruit wasn’t seen as a grunt work. They were just part of their daily lives. And guess what? All that ‘back breaking’ labor and they rarely suffered pain. No shoulder impingement problems, no knee or elbow strains, and certainly no back pain (generally speaking). Just look at 3rd world countries of today. Countless hours performing physical labor and their rates of chronic joint pain are 1/5th of Western countries. I’m not saying we have to go outside and till the soil or hunt every day but, simply put, we need to move more, a lot more.
Studies have shown elderly individuals who rarely move die sooner than their counterparts who make physical exercise part of their daily routine. Think about that for a second. They didn’t die from any specific disease. They literally died because their body said, “Oh, you don’t want to move any more? I guess it’s time to go.” You might be laughing but that is a scary truth. You could live a longer, happier life if you just got off your ass and moved! Find your reason. It could be for personal aesthetics, family, or general health. Whatever the reason find it and chase after it…every…damn…day.
#3 The BEST form of mental medicine is BOTH
How we think has a tremendous impact on how we work, how we treat others, and even our physical health. If you’re a positive person you tend you be happier, have a brighter outlook on life, and are more likely to overcome hardships. There are very few people who are happy 24/7. It’s ok to be upset. However, the food we eat and the extent to which we move our bodies are strongly correlated to our state of happiness and mental wellbeing.
Ever heard of the runner’s high? It’s the point in which a runner reaches a certain distance where they feel no pain. They went from a state of suffering to a state of ecstasy. All of us have the capacity to feel this way. Any physical activity that makes you happy can help you achieve this feeling. The same can be said for food. Sure, you can eat a big mac and love it in the moment. But how do you feel 30 min. later? Not so good. Now, try to remember the last time you ate a delicious meal. Not only was it delicious but also made you feel good hours later. You had energy. You felt great! Chances are the meal you ate was real.
Whether it is the meals you eat or the exercises you do it will only work if you enjoy it. It’s not about suffering through a workout or eating certain foods so you look good in a bathing suit. It’s about being happy. It’s about enjoying life. Life is far more enjoyable if you can move and eat well. Enjoy food. Enjoy movement. Make it fun. Make it lasting. Yes, it will take time to adjust, time to learn what works, time to learn what you like, but you only get one shot at life. Make it count.
Eat well. Move often. Be happy. It really is that simple.