As we age, the path we take is our own choice. The first and most traveled road is one that follows the herd. Unfortunately, most people choose the path that conforms to the “norm.” It’s easy to resign yourself to a slow deterioration as you age. Most likely, you’ll ultimately concede life to one of the many all too common metabolic disorders like type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or dementia. But you don’t have to follow this path. You have another option, there’s a different road you can travel. You can break from the herd and be extraordinary.
The first option is far more convenient to follow, the path of least resistance usually is. You can take the easy road and live a near effortless life that modern civilization affords us. Why expend any extra energy or extra thought when you don’t have to, right? Let’s take a look at just how easy this easy path can be.
Wake up every day and have a big bowl of delicious sugar coated cereal, maybe a jelly doughnut or a bagel thick with cream cheese and a big glass of your favorite juice. Drive to work and park in the garage below your office. Take the elevator to your floor and sit in a chair all day. Fill up on a big deli sandwich, a bag of chips, and a soft drink for lunch. Treat yourself to a candy bar and a frappe’ in the afternoon. Go home after work and plant yourself on that big comfortable couch, order a pizza, kick your feet up and relax. Maybe have a few beers or share a bottle of wine with someone special. When you grocery shop and cook for yourself, make it easy. Buy prepared meals that come in a box, can, or shrink wrapped with simple reheating instructions. Maybe treat yourself and get drive through fast food on the way home or meet some friends for dinner at a chain restaurant with inexpensive king sized portions. Come home and pass out in a peaceful food coma. Get up the next day and do it all over again. All effortless and convenient. Now that’s living!
The second path may not be so easy to follow. It requires some extra thought, planning, and effort. Our modern society of convenience has not set this up for you.
Wake up every day and cook real food for breakfast. This means taking the time to prepare things like eggs, oatmeal, and fresh fruit. Dedicate at least one hour of your day to either going to a gym or getting in an outdoor cardio workout like running or biking. You’ll also have to take the time to grocery shop at least a few times a week. You’ll trade convenience for quality. This means the foods you buy don’t come in a box, a can, or pre-cooked in shrink-wrapped containers. Instead, you buy whole intact foods like grass fed red meat, antibiotic free poultry, organic eggs, fresh fish, hormone free dairy, organic green vegetables, root vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruit, and nuts.
You also move your body often. We humans are extremely good at adapting to environmental stresses or lack thereof. If you follow the more convenient sedentary road your body will adapt to the lack of exercise and movement by steadily losing muscle mass and bone density. Exercise like weight training and running are stresses on our body that we adapt to by building lean muscle and bone density.
The "food like" products we don’t eat are as important as the real foods we do eat. The inflammation caused by a lifetime of eating cheap and easy refined carbohydrates and manufactured fats will result in increased fat stores and the onset of a whole host of metabolic and cognitive disorders. Choose these non-foods (refined carbohydrates - sugar and white flour are not food) and you’ll effectively speed up the aging process. You’ll also increase the probability of dying from one of the above-mentioned metabolic disorders. There is an alternative path you can take and it’s open to all of us.
Those of you bold enough to follow the alternative, the not so easy path, won’t stop the aging process but you’ll significantly slow it down. Your bodies will adapt to the stress of daily exercise and movement by maintaining, even rebuilding; bone density and muscle mass. Maintaining a healthy lean figure or physique will help you look and feel your best. It will improve your self-esteem. Your nutrition plan made up primarily of whole intact foods as opposed to refined carbohydrates and manufactured fats also has consequences. You won’t continuously build fat stores. The lack of insulin spikes won’t subject your body to continuous inflammation. The probability that you develop one of the above mentioned metabolic disorders will be greatly reduced. You’ll continue to look and feel great well into old age. Doesn’t this path sound like a better option?
Either of these paths is available to us all. I choose to follow the less traveled road, the healthy lifestyle. You can too. Diets don’t work because they are temporary and rely on restrictions. Following a healthy lifestyle means you can eat any foods - whole intact foods. Yes, living the healthy lifestyle is often at odds with the convenient society we live in and what is considered the “norm” but with a little extra effort you can be extraordinary.
I had my eureka moment at age 43. I entered a body transformation contest and lost 35 pounds in twelve weeks. Over the course of the next 5 years I wrote Get Fit, Lean and Keep Your Day Job: a transformation guide for any body. I’ve stayed on the healthy path and 8 years later, at age 51, I look and feel better than ever. Maybe you’re many years from 51 or maybe you’re well past. In either case it’s never too early or too late to start following the healthy path.
Yours in Health and Fitness,