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90 day Natural Fitness challenge: Day 25 DIET VS. EXERCISE

Assuming you are one of millions who struggle with staying lean and mean…which do you think is more important when it comes to keeping weight off…

Diet? Or exercise?

Most of you will now give the pat answer…BOTH!  While I know that both are extremely important to our health and well-being, especially in the long-term, I want to find out what you all truly believe about the impact of diet vs. exercise on your body fat levels.

Diet

Please keep in mind that when I use the word “diet” I almost never mean “dieting.”  When I say diet it isn’t simple calorie counting I am speaking of (how much you eat), instead I am talking about your diet (what you eat).

The reason I am curious about this is because I am now 25 days into my 90 straight days of exercise challenge and even though it feels great to be so active and using my body this way, the results don’t seem to be as dramatic as when I ate only raw foods.

When I ate only raw foods for 60 days, I did very little exercise.  I deliberately wanted to see what effects the food was having on me.  During those 60 days I felt firmer, and the scale testified with an astonishing 37 lbs lost in only 8 weeks!

Exercise

After completing my 60 day raw challenge I had so much new energy that it was becoming impossible NOT to exercise.  When I would go on a long slow hike I’d find myself wanting to break into a run.  That’s when I realized that I had never been a consistently physically active person, and wondered what it would be like to do some form of intense exercise every day…

The 90 day Natural Fitness challenge (aka 90 straight days of exercise) was born.

There is only one rule with my new challenge (which several others have joined me on); do some form of real exercise EVERY DAY for 90 days.  The idea is for it to be strenuous.  Ideally it will get you outside sometimes into nature.  And one day a week it should be light exercise, that way you can give your body a break but still maintain the habit of daily exercise.

This time around I didn’t want it to be about raw food.  Obviously, anyone putting themselves through the 90 day thing is concerned about their health and is doing everything they can to eat right, but I wanted to see what the effects of exercise were on my body…

What I eat now

If you are curious I will give you an idea of how I am currently eating:

  • A green drink every morning (usually citrus and spinach).
  • Snack on fresh fruit, coconut water, LARA bars, and occasionally raw nuts.
  • Some days I have a raw energy shake made with raw cacao, maca, coconut butter, banana, and raw honey.
  • Other days my afternoon snack or lunch will be hummus and blue corn chips, or raw corn chips w/ avocado and hot sauce.
  • I work at night and snack on tangerines, LARA bars, bananas…
  • I always have a very late dinner (which is supposed to be a No-No, but that’s how my life is right now).  I only cook vegetarian meals at home, and because my girlfriend is a celiac, I don’t use any gluten at home.  That means simple dinners like chili poured over baked potatoes, brown rice pasta topped with marinara sauce, quinoa tossed with pesto/sun-dried tomatoes/and raw goat cheese, nachos made with blue corn chips/organic cheese/pintos/fajita veggies/and pico de gallo, or oven roasted veggies & fingerling potatoes, etc.
  • Usually have a glass of red wine with dinner or a gluten-free beer (they actually taste pretty good and are made with fermented sorghum). I sometimes have a (as in one) cocktail when we eat out or I will make myself one at the bar where I work when it’s time for me to close up and clean the place.
  • We eat out 1-2 times per week and if I am somewhere that serves organic beef I might have a burger.  Otherwise it’s fish tacos, sushi, or a vegetarian meal.  I don’t eat meat or dairy out that isn’t sourced naturally (without antibiotics, hormones, and confinement), which is much harder to find then people realize, and which means I have meat about twice a month now.

So I think my diet is pretty healthy and clean.  Certainly much improved over how I ate before I undertook the raw food challenge (I binged on pizza, burgers, mexican food, and drank over 100 adult beverages per week). But I feel “soft”, and my weight loss has slowed since going off the 100% raw food diet.

I know that I am also gaining muscle (Bikram Yoga is a killer lower body workout–very ass rounding), I can see and feel the new lean mass.  But I just don’t have that firm/hard quality I was getting from eating all raw (even with almost NO exercise).

So which has more impact on you?

Some of my friends swear that without exercise they have zero self-control over their eating.  And others, say that if they aren’t watching what they eat, they don’t feel it’s worth exercising.  It seems that often one or the other is the anchor needed to live a healthier lifestyle.

For me, if I didn’t first clean up my diet, I would have never undertaken an exercise regimen and stuck with it. In fact it was important for me to have ZERO expectation regarding exercise when I started raw so that I could focus only on my diet!

I think food is more important and gives greater results in the short-term, and that exercise has a greater impact in the long run…what do you think?

Please comment and let me know what your experience is!

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Today:

  • Making a big pot of homemade 3 bean chili. House smells great.
  • Will be doing some basic strength-training at home today; push-ups, curls, etc.
  • Started my day with my spinach drink.

Here’s some pics from yesterdays hike–we drove near Joshua Tree so we could play in the snow.

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