Chapter 8 of the One Life Manifesto: Health.
I would say throughout my life I have been fairly healthy. I don’t do drugs. I’m not into drinking alcohol. My diet is fairly controlled. Like everyone else, I have my cheat days. But I have never been overweight. I have never been obese. I have always been skinny. I mostly thank my high metabolism for that. But you know what? If I wanted to, I could be obese. It could definitely happen. All I need is more sugar, more salt, more unhealthy fats, tons of carbs. That’s what makes up our North American diet. If I eat a lot more crap, then I could be that individual.
But that’s not me. I am psychologically not capable of going down that road of unhealthy eating habits. I want to discuss with you how I have really conditioned myself to live a very healthy life. There are so many benefits to what I am about to describe. You will be much happier, much more focused, with more energy than you have ever felt before. That’s what good health brings you. It brings you a higher level of intelligence, less stress, less anxiety, less bodily issues, less of that need to go to the hospital. Less of that need to go to the doctor. Less of that need to subscribe for medications. I am happy to say I am not on any medications. No medications to rule my life and dictate what I can and cannot do. I feel limitless and that is due to my good health.
It doesn’t take much. I am not the gold standard by any stretch. Actually, I approach a very simple process to ensure that I have a good, healthy life. It’s not over-complicated at all. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Watch the media and news outlets suggesting you need to try this diet or that diet. Problem is, once you listen to too many voices, you start a new diet every week. Your body doesn’t like the on-and-off inconsistencies. Your body and mind both need to get into a habit of one simple routine.
Think when you go to grocery stores. You find that the majority of foods are filled with sugar. The aisles are covered with high-sodium and high-sugar foods, with the bakery taking up a big portion of the store. They’re calling out to you: I am the sugary treat, eat me. Come and try me out. It’s there every time you go to the grocery store. It’s not easy to turn right and ignore. It’s in the aisles as well. Sprinkled in with the healthy foods.
Right next to the produce area is typically the bakery. It’s almost impossible to go and get your fruits and vegetables without seeing a cake, cookie, or pie in the distance. There is no control on the amount of unhealthy food in the grocery store. There does not seem to be any government control on this. Governments have these health care issues and they wonder why.
We are talking about a 50% obesity rate in countries like Canada and the USA. Maybe that’s why healthcare is not so great. Most people are in hospitals because of a heart attack or cancer caused by the food we eat. Due to unhealthy living and an unhealthy lifestyle. Maybe if the government controlled what kinds of foods were in a grocery store, there would be less of that.
It’s a psychological habit when you see the unhealthy item. You have the desire to pick it up. If it is there in front of you in the grocery store, your brain says: I crave that. You go for it. But if it is out of sight, it is out of mind. You are less likely to fall into the trap. You know I love my cookies. I love my cakes. I love my pies. But I do not eat them every day. It’s not part of my normal routine. My normal eating routine is a specific set of foods. I don’t have a ton of salt, I don’t have a ton of sugar.
Healthy foods require some study. It requires you to be understanding of the foods that are out there and why you need to eat those foods that are healthy. Understand why they are good for you and why they bring you energy. You need to educate yourself if you want to implement this change. The more educated you are, the more disciplined you can be with not eating the unhealthy foods. I know you will have cheat days sometimes. It is important not to feel guilty if you do.
It’s your opportunity to get disciplined. Turn that page. Re-adjust. Your family may be a reason why you don’t eat healthy. Maybe they are the ones who go to the grocery stores and they take charge. They buy the foods. Maybe it’s time for you to take initiative and say: hey! Why don’t you let me take this on for today? I am sure they would appreciate it if you put in some effort and went shopping with them to help them out. Say: hey! Let me get dinner tonight. Bring home a healthy dinner everyone can enjoy.
Don’t let others buy food for you. Perhaps they are putting toxins in your body, moving you closer and closer to hospitalization. That is the harsh reality. If you go down the road of obesity, you will be in need of medical help. Whether it be through medications or sickness, you will need to go to the doctor more. I don’t like going to the doctor. When I do go, it’s hopefully for maintenance. There are never any serious physical issues with me as I eat healthy.
Here is the food-buying process. When I go to the grocery store, I focus on two particular areas: produce and meat. That is it. The other aisles I pay very little attention to. Now I am detached mentally from the other aisles. I do not go down the other aisles. I have a specific set of foods that I have in mind before I go shopping so that I don’t get swayed by temptation. Produce and meats. No frozen meats or foods. Frozen items are just as bad as table salt by itself, filled with preservatives and salt to keep it fresh past the expiry date.
People want convenience. They want fast. They want quick. They want cheap. The perception is that frozen food is cheap and easy to cook. Frozen food sounds good. Can’t go wrong there. Get a pizza, throw it in the oven, and it’s good to go. It’s not the best approach to think of food as convenience. Food is not convenient. Food is a necessity. Food is a big part of your life. Food provides the fuel for functioning throughout the day. You put the right food in your body, your body will work without a hiccup. Put the wrong food in and you will break down. You will fall apart. Your body cannot function the same way. I see all these people who are exhausted by the end of the day.
I have plenty of energy with no caffeine, no lattes, no unhealthy foods. I fill my body with greens. 75% of my plate is greens. Most people don’t even have that many greens, if any. People look at greens as if the taste is just not there. Forget the taste. Move past the idea that food has to be delicious, even though healthy food can be, easily. If food has to taste sugary and salty, move past that thought. Get to the point where you can enjoy the food as it is. I may be an extreme example because I will eat a handful of spinach and enjoy the taste and the texture. I know it is healthy for me, and I feel great afterwards. I enjoy my handful of spinach. Of course, I will encourage you to put olive oil on it to get some healthy fats. Mix healthy vegetables together with a few fried eggs on top and boom, you’ve got yourself a delicious salad. Olive oil is your dressing. You do not need vinaigrettes and ranch dressing full of unhealthy fats. Vinaigrettes are mostly full of salts and sugars. They are disguised as healthy and light salad dressings, yet they are not.
As a rule of thumb, the foods that die a couple of days later are the foods that you should consume. The fruits that wither are the fruits that you should consume. When it comes to meats we jump quickly to talk about the expense. I disagree. I feel that fresh meats are actually less expensive than the usual junk out there. You are cutting away all of the salts and you are getting exactly the food that you need to fill your body. It is like premium gasoline for your sports car. You are going to be running smoother with premium fuel. So, it is worth the investment.
When you break it down, you can get bulk fresh meat, freeze them, and only eat what you need. In fresh meat you get a full dose of that protein, a full dose of whole food that fills you up for hours. Potato chips are astonishingly very popular, but absolutely toxic. There are healthier options these days, but still they are not healthy enough. They are just lighter, which means you will eat more of them. Smaller, which means you will just eat more.
I recommend you transition to snacks that are healthy. Switch over to walnuts, almonds and other unsalted nuts. Perhaps some raisins to get that iron in there. Raisins are a good substitute to sugary foods because they have a healthy, natural sugar. Apples are another alternative to sugary foods. Nice, delicious apples to me are much better than any candy. It has the high fibre that I need to fuel my day. I like having them in the morning for breakfast. These are very basic, simple foods that are absolutely easy to consume. Yet you just pass them in the grocery store like they don’t exist.
I recommend that you review what you are buying at the grocery store. Consider clearing away all the garbage in your household. If you have healthy food in your household, you are more likely to eat healthy. Fill your shelves with healthy foods. If you have a cheat day, that is okay. Embrace it. If you have several in a row, you may wish to review why.
For me I look at the mirror and I say there is no way I could ever be obese. It’s not something that I would want to put myself into. I never want to go to the hospital. If I become obese I will become hospitalized. I would never be able to handle the stresses of life. Plus the horror of the hospital just scares me away. I do not want to go down that road ever. Psychologically, I must eat healthy. I simply cannot eat unhealthy for days. I never want to put myself through that misery.
That is my discussion on food. It is a tough grind to make the adjustment. Your diet is more important than your exercise. 70% of who you are today is due to your diet. Your appearance is dictated by your diet. So, if you get your food in order, you will find life to be a little easier.
You might need somebody to help you out. For me, my brother encouraged me to eat healthier. Although I have always been fairly particular about what I eat, my parents helped by putting vegetables on my plate when growing up. So, I understood what was required to eat a healthy meal. As far as meats are concerned, I don’t eat anything too heavy. I prefer chicken, salmon and turkey. All the lean variety. I don’t deviate too much from that. It is my strategy and I alternate between those three meals. It keeps things interesting. Gives me the variety I need. Satisfies my cravings for food. Once you have your food, nutrition and diet taken care of, you will be more equipped to handle the next piece, which is exercise.
Exercise is not fun for everyone. I don’t always enjoy my routine, but I do it. I know I must do it to keep myself in shape and keep my muscles tuned. So, I have some very small routines that I do every day. I get into yoga every morning to get some flexibility. This keeps me conditioned. I go for some basic walks. All you really need to do is walk around the block every day. I started with that. I try to get a 30-minute walk in every day. You can do it during your lunch break or while you’re at your work, heading to meetings. Ideally you should get it done in the morning, when you wake up. Go for exercise and then you are done for the day. You move on with the rest of your tasks, knowing the hardest part of the day is over with.
If you exercise in the morning, first thing, you will feel amazing for the rest of your day. You will feel like you could conquer the world. It’s a pretty great feeling to have. Why not exercise in the morning? Why not take advantage of the time that you have in the morning? Get up early. Go for a run. Go for that walk. Do something that you enjoy. Dance, stretch. Find an activity you enjoy and embrace it. Do it with somebody else. Get that exercise in. Have sex with your partner, it’s a fun way to burn those calories. For the couples out there it is the most fun way to get your exercise done. Nothing wrong with that. It also shows you love your significant other.
Exercise is that other important piece to ensure that you are healthy, happy and ready to tackle your day. It should be like brushing your teeth. Nobody ever tells you this, but exercise is what brushing your teeth is for the body. It’s required. Nobody ever pushed this 30-minutes-a-day concept when I was young. You just need at least 30 minutes a day to be healthy! But it really is true.
If you just have that routine every day and have it as a process, you are getting something amazing done. By exercising 30 minutes a day, you will live longer, you will live happier. If you are injured, take the day off. You can get back to it. Just like food, you can have cheat days. Don’t plan to have cheat days for skipping or resting, but it could happen and that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it. But just stick to the process of a proper fitness routine. I hope you can make a positive impact in your life to feel good and feel healthy. I want you to feel strong.