Let’s Forget Everything We Know about Healthy Eating
So far on Young Ambitions I’ve mainly talked about why you should live on purpose.
But as we grow, I expect to start talking about anything that falls under the lifestyle design umbrella. That might mean relationships, learning, careers…anything you can influence in your life to make it better or more ‘you’.
So, today I want to get us thinking about health and fitness on THE MOST BASIC LEVEL EVER (stick with me).
Obviously I’m not an expert on this stuff, (I mean I eat chocolate every day, am probably going to have pizza for lunch and dinner today, and about died cycling to the end of my road the other day.) but the point of this post is to get us to kind of undo what we know, and start from scratch. You don’t need to be at all interested in this stuff, but I think it’ll do you good to rethink your approach towards health and fitness.
I’ve always known that I need to try and eat well and exercise.
And every now and then I give it a little go, but I’m not really committed. Now, all of a sudden, I’m like ‘GO!’ I’m guzzling down all the information on Nerd Fitness, experimenting with the paleo way of eating, and training to cycle from Vancouver to San Francisco this summer (update: change of plan – this isn’t happening anymore!).
I have a theory that, with things like sorting your life out and getting fit, even though you KNOW you should be doing it, your heart is never completely in it until one day you flip, and suddenly this is it. You’re going for it.
I’m finally ready. Maybe this post will make you ready too, or maybe you can just file it away in your brain for when you are ready. Either way, at some point, you should go back to the basics.
I’ve had a few massive realisations since I became properly interested in health and fitness.
So I’m going to share them with you. Yay.
1) We judge our health and fitness based on what is ‘normal’.
I’m slim. I’ve never tried to diet, and I’ve never been worried that I’m too fat.
But guess what I found out the other day? I’m overweight.
Like, actually. I worked out my Body Mass Index, and, although I don’t trust BMI measurements entirely (because a calculation can’t know whether more of your weight comes from fat or muscle), my results put me in the overweight category.
I thought I was pretty ok weight-wise because, when I look around, I see that most people are bigger than me.
But have you seen the statistics? In England, one in four adults is obese. Not overweight, but obese. Now, I don’t know about you, but, to me, obese means REALLY big people. But, when I think of adults I know, I can’t think of any REALLY big people, just biggish people. Our perceptions are completely out.
On the whole, we’re probably a lot less healthy than we think we are.
2) Most people just want to be slim; they don’t think about being healthy.
I only ever hear people complaining that they need to lose weight, or that they have muffin tops. Very few people (or very few young people) seem to be bothered about how good a condition their bodies are in. They’re not interested in how much fat is inside them, as long as it doesn’t affect their clothes size.
Personally, I don’t like it when I notice I’ve become a bit podgier, but my main concern is what I’m making my body put up with by fuelling it with rubbish.
I’ve also started to notice recently that my body is not all that young anymore. It took me about half an hour to do a roly poly the other day, and when I went cycling with my 11 year old sister this week, she was confidently leading the way while I was struggling to stay upright. I can now see how people get to 40 and realise that they’ve let themselves go. I don’t want to get all stiff and creaky.
I guess it’s like having a car. There’s no way you would just polish and paint it, and sometimes put Diesel in instead of petrol, and not take it to be serviced.
3) We have ridiculous rules and habits that we don’t even question.
My dad’s started his own LighterLife centre, and has been telling me some of the things he’s learnt about eating.
For example, if we’re full but there’s still food on our plates, we force ourselves to finish it. We grow up being told ‘You’re not leaving this table until you’ve finished everything on your plate’. But how ridiculous is it that we’re taught to ignore our bodies telling us to stop putting food into them?!
And, instead of risking offending whoever cooked the meal by not finishing it, why don’t we just put less on our plates in the first place?
4) The information we hear every day is kind of wrong.
Fat is bad, right? If you’re trying to lose weight, Diet Coke is better than Coke. There are all these rules about weight loss that we hear and read on a daily basis.
Well, guess what. Fat’s not bad.
Yes, you read that right. In the words of Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness:
‘fat is easily the most misunderstood macro-nutrient in your diet; long story short: fat is absolutely critical to your body and should make up a BIG portion of your daily calories […] It wasn’t until the past 40-50 years that poor fat was suddenly vilified (after a few scientific leaps of faith with no real evidence to back it up), which is why every “healthy” food these days is “low fat” or “fat free!” Not surprisingly, our country is fatter and more unhealthy than ever’.
Also, you know how food labels are based on women taking in 2000 calories a day, and men having 2500? Apparently that’s not how many calories you should aim for, but how many the average person would need to stay at the same weight. What’s the problem with this? The average person is overweight. Actually, we all need to work out for ourselves how many calories we need to take in each day to stay at the same healthy weight.
Have you ever questioned the information the media or your family gives you about health and fitness? Again, I’m not an expert, and no one can provide you with the perfect diet for you, so do your own research (I’d recommend that you start by reading A Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating or How to Lose Weight without Doing One Minute of Exercise), and experiment from there).
5) Why don’t we just eat properly?
When people want to lose weight, they head straight for weird diets. They try eating only soup, starving themselves, and all sorts of other weird things.
Why don’t we just eat real food? And by real food I mean food that exists naturally without factories and plastic packaging. Surely cutting out fake food would make a massive difference? It’s so simple, and yet barely anyone does it. Rather than making the effort to eat healthily, we decide to drink coloured fake milkshakes all day. Weird.
Also, we tend to think that we can do the diet to lose the weight, and then eat ‘normally’ again. Where’s the logic behind that? If you go back to eating what you ate before, your weight will creep back up again. There are all kinds of statistics about things like if you have one biscuit a day, after a few years, how many kilos those biscuits alone will have made you put on.
We’re not thinking about what we’re doing, and how it will help; we’re just doing what everyone else does without questioning it.
From reading just a bit about nutrition, I’ve realised how ridiculous we are about health and fitness. Individually, most of us don’t have a clue why we’re doing what we’re doing, and we don’t question the information we’re given.
I’m no health and fitness expert, so I can’t tell you what to eat, but I do think the key to sorting your health or weight out is to do your own research, and base your decisions on that. That’s what I’m doing.
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