The fitness industry is obsessed with body image, body transformations, health and diets. I am no expert on health and diets, I just see a lot of craziness about food lately. It made me want to have a ramble of sorts.
The underprivileged worry about what and if or how much they will be able to eat on a day to day basis.
The privileged, on the other hand, worry about what they should avoid eating and come up with all sorts of healthy diets. Please, worry about the state of the planet and real issues instead… All I see on my facebook thread are some bullshit fitness memes and motivation quotes, and bullshit articles about what food to avoid for health. “Eat this if you want to look like ripped”, “Do not eat this if you want to live forever” or “You might be allergic to this and not even know it!”. We’re allergic to this and that. How truly healthy are we then?
A picture of some fitness model does not tell us anything about the privations and struggles it took the person to get that lean look. It does not tell us anything about this person’s mental outlook, his/her feelings of happiness and satisfaction before, during and after the picture was taken, and it tells even less of their health.
Look, I am not putting anyone down or try to belittle those who strive for the perfect physique. I really admire people who have dedication and are willing to put hard effort into their goals. If it improves their lives, I am all for it, and I hope they can maintain that physique for the rest of their life. But if their body image is the only goal in life and they have to sacrifice their happiness in the process, look for external validation, then I am not impressed. If you can’t maintain that look over time without huge costs, I am not impressed either.
I have always been interested in being fit and healthy, whatever that means… It seems now like empty words without substance, with too many definitions to care about. I have obsessed about my food more than I should have at times. The more I got to know about health (both from bad and good sources) the more I became worried about what I ate, trying to avoid foods or food groups.
I remember my boss, Darryl, when I was working as a cook in ski lodges in the late 90s. He told me on a few occasions me to stop being a dick about what I ate. His opinion was that guilt was more likely to be worse for your body than the actual piece of cake you eat once in a while. That guy was also the meanest strongest hardest working and toughest guy I’ve ever met, I kid you not.
Here’s a message: Do not feel guilty. 2 steps forward and 1 step back, is still 1 step forward. Keep moving on :-)
Some years ago, I decided that being fit and healthy should not become the major driving force or focus of my life.
I have a sustainable lifestyle and approach to training and eating. No privations, no cravings, no restrictive diets, no punishing training regimen, no expensive supplements. This is freedom!
I am never going to be super lean, super muscular, super strong, super fit, super famous. And I don’t fucking give a super shit about it, I choose to enjoy life instead, life where food tastes good, and exercise is a form of expression instead of an obsession.
About exercise, I set achievable goals, and if it takes a little longer, it’s not big deal. I do not give up on the goal, I just change the “use by” date. That’s about it. The thing is, as long as my training performance keeps getting better and better so is my body (by my own standards, the only ones that truly matter if I want to remain sane), without me having to do anything special about it.
I was at FIBO last year, a huge fitness industry convention. A rep for some supplement who told me “you can always be leaner”. I hoover at 10-12% bodyfat without trying, and here’s some psycho telling me I should try his supplement, just to be leaner? What the fuck for? Ask yourself that question…
Back to food…I always enjoyed my food, must be something I developed growing up in France in a period where fast food was practically not existent. I never left the table feeling hungry, I can tell you that. When you’ve filled up on real food, there is not much room left for junk. Maybe people would sort their food issues by learning to cook, just an idea worth a shot.
For a little guy, people who’ve seen me eat are usually impressed by the amount of food I can put away. The only time I do not eat much is when I am stressed about my workload and basically forget to eat.
Interestingly, I recently read something about people who never diet and dieters. “Restrained eaters react to emotions and external cues in a nearly totally opposite manner of unrestrained eaters”. Basically, when stressed, non dieters will eat less, dieters will let all barriers crash down and pig out on junk. By restrained eaters, it is meant any form of restriction: low calories, low carb, low fat, no grains, no nightshades …
If you follow the blog you’ll know I have been curious and tried many approaches over the years. Ayurveda, Taoist food combining, Weston Price, Intermittent fasting, even Vegan lately. Well, now I am eating omnivore again. I just focus more on filling my plate with starches and vegetables, animal products are used as side dish. But I am not fussing about it. If I go somewhere I eat what is served without going apeshit about it.
To end this post, here ‘s a collection of nuggets (see what I did there?) by surfing legend Laird Hamilton (whole article).
“I have friends who eat healthier than anybody, but it takes them all day. And if they don’t have their sprouted bread, they go into a seizure. I can eat a Big Mac. I’m not going to love it, but it won’t put me into toxic shock. It’s like if a car is too high-performance, then it’s sensitive to any kind of fuel. I like being more like a truck. If a little diesel gets in there, maybe a little water, it’ll cough and burp a bit, but it’s gonna get through it and keep running.”
But do not be mistaken, this article is not about eating anything and everything, as Laird also says “If it’s potato chips in, it’s potato chips out. You eat garbage, you’re probably going to perform like garbage.”
At the end of the day we (still) have the luxury to be able to choose what we eat, so pick the most wholesome foods you can and chill… If some food item is giving you problem, leave it out but do not try to convert the rest of the world to your new found religion.
Thank you, and no I do not want kale in my orange juice, that’s just gross, even if it’s “good for you” :-)