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Back On The Wild Wagon Ride Into Uncertainty

 

What Surprised Me About THE GREAT HEALTH DEBATE
Kevin Gianni

The Great Health Debate hosted by Kevin Gianni was more enlightening than I anticipated.

The “debate” didn’t really follow a debate format. It was actually a series of  interviews with various nutritional heavies.  While there were some interesting ideas presented, I can’t say it necessarily taught me a lot in regards to nutrition.

In fact the “experts” conflicting data was in many ways more confusing than clarifying…

But in an odd way, listening to so many gurus and so much info in one concentrated week freed me! I now see this diet world and all its associated conflict for what is–further evidence that life is unknowable and full of seeming contradiction. It seems that many want to hear stated something that can’t be–unassailable truth. It just doesn’t exist for diet, or anything else.

That realization–more like something I forgot again–was the extra push I needed to crawl back in the red Radio Flyer I tumbled out of a year ago, and really start living again. Whether you are hurrying by mirrors denying the degree of ill health you are in, self medicating your unhappiness with booze and pills, or even denying the sometimes scary awareness of just how uncertain all things are–denial is a powerful thing.

My Favorite Part Of The Debate

I especially enjoyed the perspectives shared on the evening David Wolfe and Daniel Vitalis were interviewed by Kevin Gianni.

A quick note: I think these two interviews illustrate what a shame it is that the debate wasn’t a true verbal exchange between the participants.  Much is lost when there isn’t a direct interchange, and I believe Kevin is not only an awesome interviewer but also an excellent moderator more than capable of keeping the discussions, and even arguments, on track.

Wolfe

Why I especially enjoyed Wolfe and Vitalis had less to do with their nutritional insights than their incredible openness and general take on life. Both refused  to talk about people, food, and nutrition in a simplified reductionist light; a path they both admit to once being on.

Vitalis

 

Both men–regardless of how you feel about their advice–strike me as individuals who find things out for themselves, and then share their experience more than their opinions.

As I said in yesterdays post RE opinions, this experential approach to life, which is less about judgement and knowing than direct experience appeals to me. Coming to any table vested in winning an argument means you are not really their to share info or listen to what others have to say.

What Now?

Immediately following the interviews with both David Wolfe and Daniel Vitalis I felt inspired to begin yet again on my very personal journey toward healthful eating.  I also felt empowered to do this in small ways, to do it without labels, and without subscribing to any particular guru’s unique approach.

For me that has meant being blatantly honest about which foods I know intuitively after 37 years on the planet do nothing for me nutritionally and in some cases cause harm to my organism.

At my current very low level of personal health and well-being it is clear to me the following  foods have to be eliminated from my diet:

  • All commercial dairy products and all cow dairy regardless of its source.
  • All gluten, all processed grains in any form other than whole, and very little if any of those.
  • Refined sugar in its myriad disguises.
  • Factory farmed anything.
  • Artificial anything.
  • Genetically Modified produce grown with pesticides.
  • Coffee.  Probably the most difficult to give up on this list, but a food that I have a long negative history with.
  • All foods cooked or fried in oil.
  • Added salt.

 

What Does That Leave TO Eat?

A lot actually.  The issue in some ways may actually be less about what to eat, than where to eat it, and where it came from?

During the debate there was a ton of discussion about what humans did or didn’t eat 10,000 years ago.  Most of this was centered around whether humans did, and whether we currently should, eat meat.  This being the primary item debated struck me as strange and limiting.

 

When 'To Eat or Not To Eat?' was the food question of the day...

While Kevin Gianni was extremely fair with all  participants, not once did I hear him try and sway the debates, it was obvious that the debates were the brainchild of a non meat eater, because every question was eventually reduced to one, “should we or shouldn’t we eat meat?”  Not an irrelevant question, and definitely juicy with controversy, but still a question that invariably limited the scope and depth of a discussion about health.

Who Should We Really Be Arguing With?

I can’t help but feel, and here I am proffering my opinion, which I am trying to do less of, that a true debate about health in our time would center much more on the merits of industrialized food VS non-industrial local sources of food.

Healthy meat VS unhealthy.  Healthy vegetables VS unhealthy.  Yes there will always be room to debate percentages and quantities of macro-nutrients.  There will always be a philosophical debate about  killing or using animals for food. But the carnivores, omnivores, herbivores, and fruitarians are all in the same boat when it comes to the industrialization of our food to the point that it barely resembles food. Have you walked through a modern supermarket lately?  It is frightening.

"cheese" puffs and pepsi

AISLE 9 - Corn Syrup - Aspartame - Phosphoric Acid

Look back at my hit list of foods I want to eliminate from my life.  It is essentially a  list of industrial food.

For me to avoid the foods on that list, it would be difficult to eat in most restaurants, and impossible to eat in many.  For me to source quality fruit, vegetables, eggs, whole grains and meat (if I choose to eat meat again in the future) would require finding a source other than the giant corporate markets.

 

 

 

Mono-crop agriculture and factory farms are the same thing.  A very bad response to ever growing numbers of humans who aren’t prepared psychologically, politically, and technologically to feed the next generation.   Mad Science and greed have taken only 40-50 years to bring us humans down to a frightening level of disease and ill health. Obviously there are healthy people who eat meat.  Obviously there are healthy people who eat no meat.  To argue otherwise is asinine.

 

While we argue (in an arguably entertaining fashion) about how much if any of our diets should come from animals, the state of all of our food is worsening.  Our options are lessening.  Our inherent right to grow food and share it with each other is being stripped away; perhaps irreversibly.

Maybe “You are what you eat” has less to do with which kingdom it came from than whether or not what you eat–plant or animal–was healthy before you ate it?

Will we start arguing with the companies and governments who are ruining our food supply?  Can we channel some of  the energy we use debating food philosophy and branded versions of health into effective change both in our back yards and through legislation?  Because somewhere in our current debate is a form of denial about the real elephant in the room.  And that can’t be healthy.

Either way, thanks Kevin Gianni for doing something!  You obviously worked extremely hard on this project, and in my own way, I benefited greatly from it. The last several days I have taken some concrete steps to better my health, which I will be sharing soon.

Cheers!


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90 Day Natural Fitness Challenge: Day 3 What are the rules?

TONS of people are asking me how they can participate in the challenge!  But a couple questions  keep being asked.  Here’s the scoop!

What is “natural” fitness anyway?

Someone asked me yesterday what I mean by “natural fitness” challenge.

I struggled a bit with what to call this thing I’m trying to do, and settled on alternating between “90 straight days of exercise” & “90 day natural fitness challenge.”

Ninety straight days of exercise is pretty self-explanatory.  Most modern peeps don’t do some form of exercise every day.  Many haven’t exercised in 90 days!  So my plan is to get moving every day for three months.

The reason I chose to use the word natural in conjunction with fitness is that much of the fitness world has nothing to do with health.

Looking back…

In the eighties it was assumed the two words (health & fitness) were synonymous…

  • Remember when everyone was obsessed with eating low fat and sugar free?
  • Remember when endless cardio sessions and massive bowls of low fat pasta and bread were the hallmarks of health and fitness?
  • Not to mention the massive amounts of supplements people were taking!  Vitamins, minerals, protein powders, ginseng, memory aids, sleep aids, super dieters tea…
  • And the one that cracks me up the most is remembering how cool & “healthy” we thought we looked with a cold diet coke in our hand!

A lot of that mentality is still around, and most of it can be found in gyms.  Have you seen how massive some of the tubs of whey & soy protein powders are that they have for sale at gyms?  And yes, people are still popping creatine and testosterone pre-cursors like candy.

I did all that.  Years ago I completed a 12 week fitness challenge called “body for life” sponsored by EAS (a huge supplement company).  I looked damn good after that 12 weeks.  I also spent well over $1500 on body building supplements.  Including fat burners, creatine, whey, and HMB.  It was effective, but not necessarily about health.

2010 and beyond!

After eating only raw foods for the last two months of 2009–and losing over 33 pounds–I now have the motivation and desire to get incredibly fit! But I am not interested in anything other than a natural approach to doing so…

No way am I going to embrace an artificial, chemical, fear-based approach to fitness.  We all want to look great naked–no doubt about that–but NOT at the cost of our health.

I believe we can do both.  And I believe that journey will take people mostly out of the gym and into nature.  I think the fitness revolution of the coming decade will happen in yoga studios, in the ocean, and on mountain tops!

I think fitness can be the way we actively meditate, the way we give back to ourselves, and a way to share and connect with the people we are closest to.

What are the rules?

The next question I am being asked is, “so what are the rules of the 90 day challenge?”

Rules are a funny thing.  We need guidelines and even full-blown rules sometimes.  But for the most part they aren’t really the thing that’s important…it’s just that we feel uncomfortable without having them.

When people start eating raw as an example they are often hyper concerned with the “rules.”  Is tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) raw?  Can I eat these olives?  Is it ok to have a glass of wine on a raw diet?  After time you begin to realize that what you are after isn’t some prize, or to be able to label yourself a raw foodist, but health, energy, LIFE!

Food

I am very comfortable with how I eat now.  I did a ton of research and experimentation during my raw challenge and I believe I have found what is best for me:

  • 2/3 or more of my diet is raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  • I do not eat refined sugars.  When I have “sweets” the sugar comes from dates, raw honey, agave, etc.
  • I literally almost never eat “white” processed flour, i.e., pasta, bagels, bread.
  • I avoid foods cooked in oil, while I liberally use cold-pressed oils and avocados in my daily intake.
  • I eat no artificial ANYTHING!  No artificial sweeteners or preservatives.  Nothing that says diet, sugar-free, low-fat.  None of that.  And that includes supposedly healthy processed soy products or other “fake” meats, etc.  I only eat real food.  If I have a veggie burger its made of veggies and legumes, not texturized soy protein isolates or seitan (wheat gluten).
  • Very rarely will I have beer or hard liquor.  I have 2-5 glasses of organic red wine a week.
  • I love raw superfoods like cacao (chocolate), maca, and spirulina–but they aren’t a huge part of my diet and I don’t spend a lot of money on them.
  • I eat very little meat or dairy, and when I do I am committed to only eating grain-fed, hormone/antibiotic/and confinement free beef, poultry, eggs, and dairy.
  • Most days start with a simple green smoothie followed by snacking on fresh fruit throughout the day.  Some days I make a cool raw dinner and have a 100% raw day.  Other days I make a healthy cooked meal or go out to one of few places I know I can purchase REAL food.
  • Greens are a BIG part of my intake each and every day.  I support local farmers and purchase most of my produce at my local farmers market.  Some of it is organic, all of it is at the very least pesticide-free.

Is this the only way to be healthy? Of course not.  Is this the right way for you to eat?  I have no idea.

This is just where I am at and I feel really good about it.  Maybe you will find these guidelines helpful.

I will say that I think most people will never really get the raw thing without committing to being 100% raw for a period of time (at least two weeks, and preferably a full month).

It is very empowering, illusion-shattering, and awareness-inducing to eat 100% raw for a time.  If you want to commit to it, get in touch with me and I will help you any way I can!

The bottom line though is this…in order to benefit from this 90 day natural fitness challenge you need to be eating what you consider to be a healthy, natural diet!

Exercise

The rules of the challenge are more clear cut when it comes to exercise–do it EVERY day!

A note about rest.  Rest is critical in order to “recover.”  Recovery is when your body repairs and grows new muscle.  So you need one day a week where you give yourself a break.  But that doesn’t mean you lay on the couch all day.  It just means you take a long walk and smell the roses, or ride your beach cruiser around the boardwalk.  Rest by moving.

The other six days show no mercy!  Seriously.  Six days a week of intense exercise.  It can be in a gym.  But it doesn’t have to be…

Maybe you have a favorite workout DVD you like to pop in.  Maybe you do Pilates or yoga (just make sure it is real hatha yoga and that it is intense).  Maybe you get up early and run/walk around a lake or hike straight up your favorite climb for 60-90 minutes.  Whatever it is–PUSH!  Really truly push and get your heart pounding and your ass shaking.

Thirty minutes of intense exercise is the BARE MINIMUM, and if you are only exercising 30 minutes you better be sweating like crazy after.  Most days you should be shooting for a solid hour of exertion.

If you are out of shape like I am, don’t use it as an excuse.  Instead take heart knowing that your fat ass will be easily taxed by almost any form of movement or resistance!  That’s right!  It’s actually easier for out of shape people to do this challenge!  Have you noticed I haven’t said one thing about how far you should run or bike?  This isn’t about distance if you are using this to get in shape.  This is about getting in shape.

The pose that eludes Annie...the Pigeon...LOL!

The people who have it toughest are those who are already fit but want to use the 90 day challenge as  a way to go further.

As an example my girlfriend, a Bikram Yoga teacher who already eats very healthily and exercises six to seven times a week, EVERY week, is doing the 90 day challenge along with me.

Her unique challenge involves attending a once weekly advanced Bikram class.  In addition to her daily exercise she is now going to once a week put herself through a 5  hour session of hellish and uber-intense advanced hot yoga.  A process that is an extreme physical and mental challenge.  Makes me feel like I’m getting away with something…

I think it will be fascinating to see what people come up with.  Maybe some snow-bound people will be cross country skiing, maybe there are people who are ready to train for their 1st triathlon or amateur mountain bike race…

So the bottom line is that in order to participate in this challenge you must commit to 90 straight days of exercise!  There are no make up days, this is meant to be tough.

So how do I start?

The rest of this is optional but highly recommended:

  1. Let me know what your start date is! I would love to stay in touch throughout the process and it will motivate me & others to know you are doing the challenge.
  2. Take before pics. Trust me, you will be glad you did.  Nothing is more motivating then comparing before and AFTER pics of yourself side by side!  If you are thrilled with your results and are open to it, I would love to post them on a blog and tell everyone about your personal experience with the 90 day challenge!
  3. Get an initial weight and any other measurement that you think are key: waist, dress size, bicep measurements, resting heart rate, blood pressure.  After you take these initial measurements DO NOT take them again for another 30 days!  Once every 30 days retake the measurements and record them.
  4. Tell other people. Let your Facebook, Twitter, and (gasp) even people you actually see in person each day know that you are doing this and you are pumped about it.  Feel free to include a link to my blog any time you like. Maybe you will get some 90 day workout partners!
  5. Write stuff down. Every single day record what you ate and what you did that qualifies as intense exercise.  I don’t know why writing stuff down makes such a big difference when it comes to accomplishing things–but it does.  That’s the whole reason behind this blog…it’s a way for me to write it down.
  6. Enjoy yourself and be your own best friend. This is about feeling healthier, looking great, and enjoying life.  It’s tough to enjoy life if you don’t like yourself.  So be a true friend and thank yourself at least as hard as you are pushing yourself!  It’s not the 90 day challenge that actually matters, so don’t ever get discouraged.  What matters is you!

I truly hope this is something that will continue to spread and benefit people.  It may seem far-fetched, but I truly believe that anyone can completely reinvent themselves in just 12 weeks!  It’s one of the coolest things about being human, this capacity we each have to change…

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What I did on my 3rd day of the challenge:

  1. Slept in and missed my chance to do Bikram today.
  2. Drank 3 glasses of water.
  3. Juiced 2 grapefruits & 2 oranges.  Blended w/ spinach & spirulina for a green breakfast.
  4. Road my bike and did errands (including buying tickets for Palm Springs Film Festival screenings!).
  5. Did an hour long “training” ride on my fixed gear bike.  Fixed gears only have one speed, are geared pretty high, and don’t “coast.”  That means if I ride for an hour I am literally pedaling for an hour.  I like to find hills and race up them until my heart feels like it will explode, then ride steady until I am breathing normal again, and then repeat over and over for an hour or more.
  6. Drank 2 glasses of water.
  7. RAW superfood energy chocolate shake:  almond butter, maca powder, cacao powder, cacao nibs, raw honey, and raw hemp seeds (great protein) all belended with some water and ice! Delicious, full of antioxidants, and gives me tons of energy.
  8. Snacked on a couple tangerines at work and probably drank another quart or more of water.
  9. Tossed brown rice noodles with homemade pesto (raw walnuts/basil/cold-pressed olive oil/garlic cloves/sea salt/lemon squeeze), some diced fresh tomato, and some raw goats milk cheese.  Enjoyed with a glass of organic wine.
  10. Drinking more water as I type this before bed.  I may sneak in another one of those Uli Mana raw chocolate truffles!

Tomorrow I am taking Annie’s Bikram class fershizzel my wizzles!

Cheers to everyone and I look forward to hearing about your 90 day challenges!