Years ago, I created a presentation which I called, “The 7 Habits of Highly Fit People”. The title borrowed from the seminal Stephen Covey book. I love that book, and highly recommend it. It is one of my all time favorites for personal development. The purpose of my presentation was to give the audience a framework for developing and following a successful fitness lifestyle. However, I have revised my thinking a bit. I no longer use the term “fit” in this regard, opting instead for “well”. You see, a person can be fit without being well. And since my focus is on Therapeutic Training, I have changed the title of this work to “The 7 Habits of Highly Wellthy People”. Most of you know by now that my desire is for each and every one of you to join me in my journey of strong health and vitality. It is my raison d’etre. I know that you don’t have to be and do what everyone else is and does. We can be different. All it takes is strict adherence to simple principles. These principles guide me in my wellness journey, and it is my hope that you adopt them. I have modified my original list as I have grown and experimented. So, here are the 7 habits, continuing with habit 5:
One of my “Junk Food Day” meals
For the purposes of our discussion, nutrition management entails:
- food intake
- water intake
Now of course “The Man” and I disagree on what good nutrition means. And if you go into a bookstore such as Barnes and Noble, you will see literally dozens of different books on nutrition. Some say eat lots of fat; some say avoid fats; some say focus on eating fruits and veggies; some say avoid fruits; there is the “rice” diet; some say eat lots of red meat; some say avoid all meat; some say focus on high protein; some say keep protein very low. And nearly all of them say “sugary” foods like coke and skittles should be avoided and rarely — if ever — consumed. And, by the way, we’ve always known about the 3 macro-nutrients — fat, protein, and carbohydrates. However, in the last couple decades “The Man” has given us a fourth macronutrient — Carbs.
Carbs are universally evil (according to “The Man”). There are countless articles expounding the idea that certain carbs should never be consumed — especially if you are “over 50”. So are they right? Well, I am over 50, and if “The Man” were right, then I should have some pretty serious metabolic issues going on. But, the fact is I don’t have any metabolic issues. So am I just an anomaly? Or is there really a problem with what “The Man” is telling us?
Nutrition management is not a difficult task. It is actually quite simple. Let me share with you the basis for my plan. This is my paradigm. Follow this and you can then construct your own personal plan:
- there are no “bad” foods. There are only foods which are more or less stressful for your body;
- there are certain foods (mostly non-processed) which the human body recognizes as “food”. These are considered “whole foods”. These foods should be the majority of your diet. Your body already has tools and processes in place to break these foods down and properly use the constituent components to build itself up;
- your body thrives on stress. But it must be adaptive stress. This brings us back to “hormesis”. And hormesis applies to all aspects of human physiology. Scientists know well that if you apply just enough stress to the human body (short enough in duration or/and intensity), then the human body responds by getting stronger. You can use this fact in your nutrition management. Since 1995, I have been doing what I call “Junk food weekend”. This is where I allow myself to eat whatever I want for two days. Then for the other five days I focus primarily on eating those foods which are less stressful. When I eat stressful foods (like skittles and soda), it causes fires throughout my body. The skittles attempt to commit armed robbery with my liver cells. The soda tries to burn down all of the houses that I spent the previous five days constructing. But the magic happens with my body’s response! The internal police spring into action and arrest the skittles. The internal fire department immediately puts out the fires. Then guess what happens? My body uses it own genes to create more police! And when the burned houses are re-constructed, my body uses materials that are more resilient than the previous materials! That is the magic of hormesis;
- drink plenty of water. Water is also a “nutrient”. Your body is 65-70% water, and all major bodily functions need plenty of water to work properly. So, get a water bottle, and be sure to drink often;
- supplement. It is highly unlikely that you will get the nutrition you need solely through diet. So, I supplement, and highly recommend you do as well. There are two processes that contribute to rapid cellular aging and breakdown, and they are chronic inflammation and chronic oxidation. Every day, I take fish oil, a fruit and veggie supplement, and vitamin D. Fish oil contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which your body uses to create anti-inflammatory eicosinoids (hormones), which helps to keep your body out of chronic inflammation. Fish oil also contains DHA (docosahexaenoic), which supports brain health and protects your neurons. Remember what happens to a pristine iron pipe when it has been exposed to the weather? That rusting is oxidation. And you want to keep your insides from rusting too quickly. Fruits and veggies contain thousands of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, as well as substances that have a hormetic effect. Even though I eat a fair amount each week, I take a fruit and veggie supplement daily to ensure I get enough of these substances into my system. Another supplement I take is vitamin D, because it is a hormone that assists many other hormones to function well. And since I get very little sun each day (plus I have darker skin), I don’t produce much vitamin D. There are other supplements which I am sure are great to take. I just have no need for them at this time. But many are worth investigating
So these are my 5 pillars for nutrition management. I hope this helps you to devise your own plan.
Habit 5 — Manage Nutrition!
Remember my vision for us — We will age together! But we will be different from previous generations. I want us to be functional centinarians, free from the chronic diseases and pains so common today. Aging is mandatory. Maintaining functional fitness and vibrant health — well, that’s optional!
Have a super great day, and an even better tomorrow! If you have any questions, please do flip me an email. See you soon!
To Your Health!
Jeff Wooten, “The Body Mechanic”