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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…

——————————————————————————————–

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!

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60 day raw food log: day 16 Weighing the cost of a raw food diet…is it worth it?

Most people are concerned about money right now.

I am in need of an IV drip connected to a money bag myself.  The place where I bartend is only scheduling me for 3-4 shifts a week, and like many restaurants, is struggling.

So one part of determining if raw food eating is “worth” it is the dollars spent. I’ll do my best to give a dollars & cents breakdown on what eating this way is costing me and how it compares to when I ate a “normal” American diet.

Another price to pay for eating raw is taking an honest look at the things you give up to do so.  Pizza delivery and cheap beer.  Pitchers of mojitos to wash down some gourmet Cuban cuisine.  Street food (especially TACO TRUCKS!)  BBQ joints…did I mention Taco Trucks?

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I knew my moto was back in Cali when I came across this taco truck on a cold night just south of the border. The Oregon border!

Finally, anytime you examine somethings true cost you have to figure out just what the hell you’re getting out of it.  AKA…what are the benefits?

So is it worth it? I’m no expert and I can’t answer this (or any other question) for you.  But let you inside my abnormally large head and show you exactly how I feel at this juncture about the costs of eating raw…

Today (part 1) will focus on the monetary cost.  Tomorrow (part 2) will look at the cost of giving up things you love and are used to…like taco trucks.  And in (part 3) I’ll wrap it up with a snazzy cost/benefits analysis (sorry no charts or Excel spreadsheets) that attempts to explore the sometimes measurable, sometimes intangible benefits of a raw food life.

Part One

IS EATING RAW MORE EXPENSIVE THAN COOKED?

First few times you walk over to the raw “section” at the health food store (you know you’ve become a radical marginal member of society when you are shopping in a specialized section of a specialty store) two things will probably jump to your attention…

My first thought was “This is a really tiny section.  Not really a section actually, more like an end-cap.”

My second thought was, “Holy shit!  $14 for peanut butter!?”

Bulk Items

To make matters worse, a lot of the things you “need” to get started are bulk items. These types of items will probably last you a month, but they require payment in full today.

As an example, I bought a big bottle of spirulina for $43.  Two weeks later I’m only halfway through it.  But when I

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Spirulina bringing someone else back from the dead...

was standing there in the store trying to imagine how bad something that grows on top of a swamp might taste, and ruminating on the sad fact that lately I don’t even make $43 some nights, well lets just say it wasn’t easy to hand over the green required to buy the green. (Spirulinas really more blue-green).

My conclusion? These items aren’t in actuality expensive and can actually make raw eating more economical in some instances. At $1.4o per serving, roughly the price of a Coke, instead of corn syrup, chemicals, and an ingredient list that reads more like toilet bowl cleaner than beverage; you get the most concentrated bio-available protein on the planet.

So, score one for the spirulina and other bulk raw items you might want like cacao nibs, hemp oil, and raw honey.

Pre-packaged stuff VS. Produce

When you are new and trying to “adjust” to raw  for the first time you will naturally gravitate to the expensive pre-packaged raw items because they sorta look like what you think foods supposed to look like.

realhomerI stood there having a Homer Simpson style conversation with myself that went something like this… “Ahhhh…crackers!  I know what crackers are! This is a peculiarly small little bag with only 6 crackers in it…not exactly a Costco size box of Wheat Thins…but it says here…sun-dried tomato crackers…mmm…sounds yummy…and they are only…let me just turn this little package over and find the price….$9!  WTF!”

I bought them anyways.  Because I was scared of not having what I refer to as “food-food.”  And you know what allows you to psychologically pay NINE BUCKS for SIX CRACKERS?  The little sticker on the package that says “raw.”  And do you know what those crackers taste like, I’ll give you a hint…it’s a 4 letter word…start’s with an “S”…and it’s not sun dried tomatoes!

I’ve been reading a lot of other raw foodists blogs and watching their You Tube channels and tweeting with them and I’m starting to get the feeling that the longer one eats raw, the more likely they are to do almost all of their shopping at a Farmer’s Market, or in a good organic produce section.

My conclusion? Go ahead and buy the pre-packaged stuff.  Try it.  See what you like and what you don’t.  Soon you will save the dehydrated breads and little $4 baggies of superfood trail mix for when you need the convenience or the comfort.  Spend the bulk of your dough on fruits & veggies that are pound for pound, yes even at organic prices, the best value for your food dollar.

11/14 UPDATE!  Went to Farmer’s Market today and loaded up on fresh veggies/greens/and fruit.  I even bought a big jar of raw wildflower honey.  Grand Total = $40  Because I’m 100% raw I also got “free” breakfast out of the deal just walking around enjoying all the samples being handed out.  When I came home I took everything out and put it on the table so I could see what all I bought.  I had to take a picture…amazing isn’t it?  The honey will last a couple weeks and I’m sharing this with my girlfriend, so the real cost to me for the week I estimate to be closer to$25!!!

DSCN1435

How Much Are You NOT Spending?check-into-booze

This is really fair question to ask, and the one that pushed me over the edge on the money issue.  Do this little exercise yourself, and be brutally honest about it.

I added up what I spent each week on:

  • Coffee. Up to 2 weeks ago I was spending over $6 per day at Starbucks.
  • Booze. I’m talking drinks out (w/ tips), drinks in, wine, beer, all of it! For me drinking on the cheap was still costing  me over $70 per week. And that’s with a job where I can have a drink or two for free.
  • Cooked food groceries. I love to cook.  Shop pretty smart at Trader Joe’s.  My share of weekly groceries is about $40 per week.
  • Eating out. Make sure you include any fast food, lunches out, frozen yogurts, movie popcorn, brunch, all that!  I had really cut back lately.  In the past my girlfriend and I would grab sushi or Mexican food at least 3x per week. But due to lack of work and recently moving, I’m gonna say I was spending about $25 per week eating out.
  • Cigarettes. I don’t smoke cigarettes, so this wasn’t an issue with me.  But if you do smoke, we’re talking big bucks here, and you ARE going to stop smoking if you go 100% raw.  Maybe not immediately, but soon.
  • Other drugs including prescriptions. In one way or another, to quote Weezer, “We are ALL on drugs.”  I like to party, and think recreational substances have their place. But for arguments sake assume you won’t be spending money on that after you get hooked up to nature’s crack–raw food.  Also include most (not all, like I don’t think eating raw is going to do anything in the contraceptive department) pharmaceuticals.  Especially meds for cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, acid reflux (my GERD is 100% GONE), etc.

So for me…about $200 per week.  What’s your total?

So that’s $200 per week that I can apply to eating 100% raw food, drinking fresh-squeezed vibrant juices, and even eating out every so often in a little raw cafe or gourmet raw eatery.  $200 is A LOT of vegetables and fruit.

Another aspect of how much it really costs to eat raw vegan organic foods that I hadn’t thought of until I read Derek Markham’s blog today…is all the money not spent at the Doctors office.  In his case he acknowledges that as a father he chooses to spend a large portion of his families income on fresh organic food.  Derek says, “Our kids deserve the best fuel for their minds and bodies, and eating this way is our ‘health insurance’.” That blew me away.

What I’m NOT suggesting is that you cancel your health insurance (if you have health insurance) and count that as potential savings if you go raw.  But imagine the money you, your family, and the country would save by having less sick days, co-pays, depression, and chronic illness…

My conclusion? Money should have nothing to do with whether or not someone chooses to go raw.  If anything, I am spending a little less money each week to give my body an abundance of nutrients and delicious food.

Tune in tomorrow if you want to read about some of my misgivings about going (and staying raw long-term), as well as a candid lament about things I’m not sure I can live without (or want to).