Showing posts with label Abel James. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abel James. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I can trace my passion for nutrition and fitness back to 1997. I was a pudgy twelve year old and I wasn’t happy about it. I was sick of my self-identity as a tubby kid. I wanted to be a healthy, strong and fit guy. I wanted to be a leader. So I gave up sugar and started doing push ups in my bedroom every night. I never looked back. 

My self-education into health really started to deepen after I finished my undergraduate degrees. I was traveling the world modeling and had ample free time to delve into the scientific literature and nutrition research. But it was only when I discovered Podcasts about three years ago that I found the ideal vehicle for ingesting incredibly useful and succinct nutrition and fitness information anywhere at anytime. The beauty of the podcast is the interview format. You can listen to an expert in one particular field of study distill their entire life’s work into one hour of good Q & A. 

When you’ve listened to hundreds of doctors, trainers, researches, anthropologists, athletes and authors share their raw knowledge you begin to see certain patterns emerge - certain truths that seem to transcend different disciplines and biases. 

I’d like to share with you 10 major truths I’ve learned from listening to over 1000 hours of health podcasts. 

1. The pursuit of health is a highly individualistic one. Every human is infinitely complex and so must find their own path to wellbeing. There is no one-size-fits-all diet or training regimen. Veganism, Paleo or CrossFit may work for you but it won’t necessarily work for everyone.

2. There are no shortcuts to health and fitness. Biohacking is an interesting field but no supplement, piece of equipment or guru can help you cheat your way to your goals. There is no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to your health. Making good choices, consistently, year after year is the only tried and true method to long term success.

3. The effect of exercise on health is an inverted U-shaped curve. Zero exercise is bad. Some exercise is good. Too much exercise is bad. If you are not an athlete you probably don’t require as much exercise as you might think. Integrating lots of movement, like walking, into your lifestyle is key. Then a couple of short, higher intensity “workouts” per week is probably enough to achieve your fitness and body composition goals, given that your nutrition, sleep, stress-management and otters lifestyle factors are optimized.  

4. Don’t trust anyone whose primary concern is financial gain. You begin to sense which health ‘gurus’ are in it for the money and which ones genuinely want to help people. Be very skeptical of any health advice from corporations and government bodies. It is clear that we have been grossly mislead for decades by organizations with vested interests. You don’t need five servings of dairy or six servings of whole grains a day to be healthy, as much as the dairy and grain industry would like us to believe it.

5. You are not a slave to your genetics. The field of epigenetics is teaching us that the expression of our genes is influenced by our environment. This means that our lifestyle choices greatly impact our physiology and health. It is within our power to prevent disease even if we are predisposed to it.

6. Everyone should have some kind of mindfulness practice. So many of the most successful and productive people I have listened to have a mediation practice. It seems to be very common among high performing people. But you don’t necessarily have to meditate to rest and reset. A long walk by yourself, some intentional breathing or a good yoga practice can be incredibly effective ways to maintain inner balance.

7. Intangible things like gratitude, relationships, humor, purpose and meaning are crucial to health. You can have an ideal nutrition and fitness regimen but if you are bitter, resentful, lonely and unhappy you are not in good health. Health is far more than the the physical. Wellbeing means having a healthy disposition. You need to nourish your emotional being. There’s no point having a well fed body if you have an undernourished soul.

8. Perfection is not the goal, consistency and small improvements are. "Never let perfection get in the way of improvement" is one of my mantras. It’s much better to be mostly good over a lifetime than to be perfect for a few weeks or months. Trying to be 100% perfect is a certain path to failure.

9. A sustainable, easy and enjoyable lifestyle is the goal. There is no point doing anything that you cannot sustain over the long term. Find what works for you - that you can maintain with little effort - and just stick to it.

10. Your idea of optimal nutrition and fitness will evolve over time. Sometimes you will be wrong but it doesn’t matter. Maintain an open mind and be flexible, not dogmatic. All that matters is that you do the best you can with your current understanding and always strive for improvement. 

My top five health podcasts: 

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