Since it seems to be the first thing people seem most concerned about, let’s start with looks.
Too fat, too thin, too sloppy, too old. The first two things people turn to, because it’s what we’re used to hearing and being sold, is food and fitness plans.
Any plan will work. There is no secret sauce in the plan or supplement or diet or gym routine.
But there are a few simple principles that are a simple part of your physiology as a human animal.
First understand that we have become what we are through millions of years of evolution. Certain patterns proved more supportive of our survival over the long term and those define who and what we are today. When we align ourselves with how our bodies work and give them what they need, they work well for us. When we don’t, they don’t.
Our bodies are miraculous machines that are designed to work well and with great efficiency to keep us strong and healthy so we can reproduce healthy offspring and sustain the continuation of the species. Regardless of your sexual orientation or your wishes to procreate or not, this is the basic program behind every species, from bacteria to plants to animals, including humans.
The air we breath was not made to align with our needs. We evolved in tandem with our environment and the air we breath, the air that keeps us alive. We don’t tend to think about food in the same way, but our bodies evolved in tandem with the environment of the earth we live on and there are foods that we are aligned with, just like the air we breath.
That should be an aha moment if you have never thought of food that way before now. Read the last paragraph again.
Despite our cleverness as sapient humans at deducing and inventing new and more appealing things, especially in the foods we have been presented with from the giants of the food industry and their amazing advertising, we have not been clever enough to not listen to them and our entire perception of why we eat and what appeals to us has changed.
This may seem long-winded, but if you understand this, it will make everything else you approach with food so much easier to manage and enjoy, it will make you see better food choices as your own true wish and not as a form of conformity to some new trend or agenda you feel compelled to follow.
It is only in the last couple of centuries that the world population has increased so rapidly that we needed to find ways to feed so many people and we completely changed the foods we eat from what our bodies were accustomed to over the past millions of years, to the less nutritious and even dangerous foods that came out of the twentieth century.
Even the all-natural foods that look like they alway did, even better, no longer contain the nutrients they did in the years of our parents’ and grand parents’ lives. Our meat is no longer raised on a variety of fresh grasses and has become a byproduct of the corn industry. It has not only become less nutritious, it has become dangerous.
Our fruits and vegetables are grown in exhausted land and lack the nutrients of longer and more diversified growing cycles and are often tainted with dangerous chemicals so they will have greater resistance to pests and create greater yields to meet the demands of our exploding population.
When we eat too much sugar, flour and yeast, we feed bacteria in our gut that thrive on it and proliferate forming a sort of barrier between our incoming food and the parts of our body that need to absorb it. They get to our food before we do.
When we eat sugar and drink liquid sugar like sodas or alcohol, it gets into our system more quickly than foods that take longer to digest and convert to the sugars our body makes for itself out of all foods we eat. Our body responds by sending insulin to rebalance our sugar levels. When we do this constantly, we develop insulin resistance and a simple basic function of our body no longer does what it’s supposed to do and other organs like our liver and kidneys are next on the battle lines and can become overwhelmed to the point of failure.
But as disheartening as all this may sound, our bodies are incredible at making the most of what they have available to them. The fact that they survive as long as they do before succumbing to our relentless abuses is testimony to this. How long those hearts keep pounding despite the clogged arteries and how long those lungs keep breathing despite the enormous amount of pollution they have to process every day, be it smoke or chemicals or simply dust. How long our livers and kidneys keep fighting for us despite us overloading them with work that overwhelms them. It’s amazing they last as long a they do. But, for the first time in history, our average human life expectancy has declined since its steady climb over the past many centuries.
Now that you know all this, or have listened to it yet again, what does it mean and what can we do? All we wanted was a little advice that we haven’t heard before. We just want to gain a little muscle and lose a little weight!
The answer is simple.
Your body is like a refinery. It turns everything you put into it into the fuel it needs.
Read that again.
Your body converts carrots and cheerios and kale and ding dongs into the same basic grade of fuel it needs to grow itself, to repair itself and to give you the energy it needs to get you to go out and get more fuel for it.
You thought you went to the gym to look good but you’re really just serving your body to make sure it is strong and healthy enough to go out and get more fuel to sustain itself so it can be its best self so it can repeat the cycle as regularly as breathing so you can potentially contribute to the perpetuation of the species. An oak tree drops many acorns and not all of them need to sprout for there to be more oak trees, but some will.
I know this is a far cry from the sexy ads of super-humans bursting at the seams in all the right places and trim and tight in all the other right places, and we have been convinced that we should buy into this for that glorious look because of the glorious life it will give us, but the fact is, quite simply, if you give your body what it needs, it will do the rest for you — and you may just wake up prettier and stronger and sexier than you ever imagined possible as an unexpected side-effect!
So what is it that you need to do?
What is it that you need to eat?
Certain foods are easier for your body to break down and assimilate. Some are nearly impossible. It’s no wonder the sale of products for indigestion run rampant! Some foods are: indigestible. We can’t digest them. Or we have a very hard time doing it. If we indulge once in a while, it probably won’t kill us. If we indulge all the time, which we do, it will.
The great thing about our amazing bodies is they are very resilient and, given half a chance, they will bounce back, if we haven’t already gone too far.
None of us will live forever, but may of us are living longer better lives in our 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond than we have been trained to believe. No diet or amount of exercise will guarantee that you won’t fall victim to cancer or one or more of the countless conditions that kill so many of us every year, but we can hedge our bets. Some of the people I know have lived their lives with the healthiest habits and succumb to things like cancer. But as with anything, you can at least do your best with what you have for as long as you can. And the silver lining here is that we are learning to listen to our bodies more than the ads on TV or the internet and reclaim our lives to live longer, happier, healthier, more vital lives than ever before.
I will give you food to prepare and digest in the future chapters, but for now, swallow what you just read today and digest and assimilate that.