As the wellness space gets more and more commercialized (think $4.2 trillion dollar industry), consumers of it need to be sure to practice discernment about the outcomes that are being promoted. One area that has been coming up for me lately is nutrition and exercise.
First of all, we are of nature. Our bodies are not machines and not the same models. They are much more amazing than that and specialized for each person at each phase of life. They inherently possess well over 200,000 years of knowledge to help us survive (let me point out plants have evolved for far longer begging us to realise their intelligence over our own). Let's start there with discernment.
When a personal trainer promotes their exercise system as a 6-week weight loss programme or a book is selling you on a Keto diet for weight loss, there is something disingenuous about that. Are they promising quick fixes or practices that are actually compromising our health in the pursuit of having what society has imposed on us as the perfect body? The type of body that nature perhaps has not intended for us.
What seems to be more important, is asking ourselves, what is optimal health and how do I achieve that? Think critically and long-term. Perhaps muscle bulk, low body fat or the methods we use to achieve them are actually not best for our bodies and overall health.
Let me come clear. I've been on this journey to look and feel great too for a long time, have tried some surely unhealthy endeavors in pursuit of dropping a dress size and have learned the lessons. What have I learned? Mostly that our health is more important than that and actually everything falls in to place when we put true health first. Quick fixes don't last. It's a lifestyle.
As someone with a slow metabolism, I was on the weight loss treadmill since the 80s. I thought health was measured by the scale. I tried everything. In the end, for the past 13 years, I discovered it was so much easier than anything I was doing. Effortless action. Basically eating a real food (get rid of the processed foods!) and being active every day. There is nothing new there. Processed low fat this, processed high protein fortified that is not the way!
Where all this is coming from is that I was having an argument with my body over the past year. I was telling it, I'm already so healthy in what I consume and how I move I shouldn't have to push myself to do anything more. And I was feeling it saying: you are putting too much strain on the digestive system at your age; your eating routine has become a habit making it difficult to pick up cues about what and when to eat; and the stiffness is not from aging but the intense workouts I have has part of my daily routine.
So something clicked in the new year. I made a few tweaks to support my digestive system and went back to hot yoga 6 days a week. The outcomes were noticeable. My mind and body felt clearer and more powerful, less stiff, less pain, and surprisingly my clothes became looser, My jeans are my scale, and though I hadn't been on a scale for over a year, I jumped on the scale and was about 5lbs less than where I thought I was. What did I do, and most certainly plan to continue?
I was already breaking a sweat and being active outside every day while eating nutrient-dense healthy food. This is not extreme, it is inherently natural for me. From there these are the tweaks I made:
Average 15 hours between last meal and first meal
Fasted morning workout
Having first meal after body is empty 🙂
Quit sugar entirely with the exception of about 1 x month
I didn't get this from a book, nutritionist or a personal trainer. Friends my age who incorporated intermittent fasting as a lifestyle said they never felt better and it showed. I thought it was going to be hard since I always start my day with breakfast and I thought it would be difficult to get a strong workout in without food for energy. It hasn't, in fact, been a battle. It feels natural and exercising, especially yoga, feels so much better on an empty stomach.
My guess is that the first two changes had the greatest impact.
The healthier my mind and body are the easier it has been to live a pretty happy go lucky life and to listen to my body's messages when something deserves my attention, whether it is physical or mental.
Where am I going here? We live in a capitalist society, a society that actually has created the products that have made us unhealthy and are now pushing products to 'reverse' that. Notice the candy section at check-out now has nearly all the major brands stamping Protein on their junk food. <facepalm> And the books and online programmes promising a solution are endless. Practice discernment.
If you give the mentioned tweaks a try, let me know how it goes. I'm not a health care professional, just sharing what worked for me. And definitely not going to package this up and monetize it. Enjoy being human!