15 June 2011

Thoughts on Fitness and Nutrition

In my time out recovering from my latest knee surgery, I have had a lot of time on my hands. Six to eight hours a day have to be spent on my back with my leg in a machine, so I've had to find things that I can do while doing this. Although there is a massive flat screen television not ten feet from me, I have spent my time reading both books and websites, applying for jobs, and when bored or burnt out of everything else, I'll just think.

One trend I was noticing over at Primal Wisdom was the posts seeming to contradict mainstream Paleo blogs. I like coming across information that challenges or flat out contradicts what I do... and I'll either use this to rethink my beliefs, retool my habits, or call the person a moron and go about my merry way semi-justified that I am still on the right course. Instead of pointing out his arguments and challenging them one by one, I figured I would take a step back and look at the basics of fitness and nutrition.

Fitness: Push
From my experience training for my club soccer or an ultra-marathon or dropping by for a CrossFit workout, I see one common link in everything I've done to progress in my overall fitness: push myself past my previous boundaries. I realized this back in high school when training for the varsity soccer team. When I would run distance, I would always try to go one step further than I went last time. When running sprints or a set distance, I would always try to finish seconds before my previous time. If I ran and was 1 second faster, I took that as a win and pushed myself harder. If I came up a few seconds longer than my previous time, I would push myself harder so that next time I was faster. Sure there is always the overtraining aspect to worry about, but effort matters. I would try to go further than the furthest I had been before, or lift heavier than I had lifted before, and so forth. So if I were to boil down fitness, I would simply say one needs to constantly challenge and push oneself. Let people argue what is the best way to gain muscle, lose fat, etc., but if you 'exercising' but not pushing yourself, I highly doubt you are going to get where you want to be unless you standards are set horribly low.

Nutrition: Know Thy Food
Taking a similar approach to nutrition, I think the single biggest thing to consider is to know what you are eating and know how it affects your body. Most processed foods contain a plethora of ingredients that if you are even able to pronounce them correctly I doubt you will find documentation about what these man-made chemicals do to your body. So when thinking about nutrition, I think the key concept is to know what you are consuming and what, good or bad, it does to you. So why would you eat foods that provide no nutritional benefits, make you hungrier, or wreck your immune system? Eat cleaner, cut out the processed (albeit convenient) shit, and know what you are shoving down your pie hole.

I realize these simplifications allow for dirty vegan and/or marathon runner types, but still I'd argue these people are fitter and healthier than the morbidly obese monstrosities you can find wandering aimlessly around Walmart. So in closing, I think that if people simply did the two things I've listed above, they would see results  in their health and fitness. So let Don of Primal Wisdom go lower fat, but I can bet you he is still not going to eat anything resembling the standard American diet.