THE ELASTIC LIFE

elasticityWhen I was coming up in fitness, staying in the fat burning zone was the thing. So joggers strapped on heart rate monitors and limited their activity by staying within these narrow parameters. They didn’t know how limited they were about to get.

Once runners started stabilizing their heart rates, the ultimate limitation emerged. Their mortality rate increased. WTH?

How did active people die…from activity? Here’s another one for you. The most active person I know, someone who was active probably using all energy systems…developed diabetes. Why? For the same reason the joggers died.

Even though he was active for 10 hours a day (and eating “clean”) the rest of the time, he still developed diabetes. Why? My hypothesis is his routine.

He was the most “disciplined” person I knew (and many consider me disciplined). But this discipline came in the form of routine. Routine, no matter how good it is, is the freeway to the graveyard. Why?

Why would consistently doing the “right” thing lead to the ultimate negative consequence? Let’s focus on two possible reasons. The first is adaptation.

Adaptation can be understood as the ability to change directions. If we’re routined, we’re moving through a limited number of directions. When we have to get out of our routine, we’re negatively impacted.

Of course we are. We’ve been practicing a routine. We haven’t been practicing adaptability.

The second reason the “right” thing could lead to the wrong outcome is how organisms respond to stress. Organisms with too much stress predictably die. But also consider those organisms with no distress at all, die, too. This points us in the direction we need to go.

Mechanical systems break down through use. Friction wears away the parts. Not as much in living systems.

Living systems build themselves up through use. Hypertrophy, right? And they break down through disuse…atrophy.

Whenever we don’t experience distress, we lose the ability to deal with distress. But too much distress and the system breaks. How do we navigate this conflict, even paradox?

If we don’t use, or use it enough, a bodily part or area breaks down. And if we use it too much, it breaks down, as well. But that isn’t the whole story.

Each part of the body affects the rest of the body. How it affects the rest of those parts is movement. But even the movement of one part affects the rest of the movements of that same part.

Let’s take the shoulder, for example. The shoulder flexes, extends, adducts, abducts, internally rotates, externally rotates, and circumducts. But here’s the kicker – when the shoulder flexes (with all other things being equal), it makes the rest of the motions harder to perform.

Why would moving your shoulder in one way make it harder to move your shoulder in all the other ways? It has to do with how our tissue adapts. Our tissue reshapes itself with use.

Like a living clay, the body reshapes itself in the shape of movement. That’s why we can often tell what a person does or doesn’t do by their posture and their gait. So when we have tissue that loses function if we don’t use that function, we’re left with one biological command: use everything.

We have to use every musculoskeletal motion of the body or we’ll eventually lose every motion of the body.  But we can’t just look musculoskeletally, we have look organically, as well. If we don’t utilize the upper and lower limits of all function, those functions become limited…until we cannot function, at all.

Our joggers lost physiological function because of how limited activity limited their hearts. No longer was there as much variability in the heart rate. It only went so far up and so far down. It purposefully stayed within a “zone.”

But to stay in this zone changed the organ tissue. Because it physiologically, or functionally, didn’t go up and down as much, it lost the analogous anatomical quality. What is that quality? Elasticity.

Our tissues are all elastic in nature. Our anatomy is elastic. While form follows function, in living systems, function follows form, as well.

If we want to maintain our elasticity, we have to live elastically. We have to breathe really fast…and really slow. We have to eat a lot and nothing. We have to drink a lot and nothing.

Periodically, life has to be be about the extremes. It’s not as though one day can be feast and one can be famine…at least from day to day. But a flat line is just that…life needs its ups and downs.

For many of us, life provides enough downs, so we spend our free time working on going up. But we forget that the climb is indefinite, it foreshadows a fall…at least on one front. But life is lived on many fronts.

When we’re down in one area, we can be up in another. But if we’re so focused on where we’re down, we’re missing the opportunity to find an area where we can go up…and then actually go up. And if we can’t find a place to go up, we have to remember that our anatomy is elastic, so our physiology is elastic, so then our life is elastic….and the only way to move forward is to go both up and down.

WRITE WHAT MAKES YOU ANGRY

angry_hulk__ai__by_ytflexor-d84fqhlI break articles into serials. Usually weekly serials. Four to five parts or more.

My least favorite time is when one series is ending and I don’t have the foggiest as to what the next will be. It’s at times like these I focus on inputs. I’ll watch documentaries and listen to podcasts. I’m foraging for ideas.

One such idea I use over I got from a podcast was when you’re stuck as to what to write, write what makes you angry. That’s something I usually stay away from. As Banner says, “I’m always angry.”

I usually try to limit my writing to thinking, feeling, and doing better. But in this article, I’m going to talk about the opposite. I’m going to look at fitness, nutrition, psychology, martial arts, politics, science, academics, and who knows what else…that makes me angry.

What characterizes my anger in any area is usually not the merchant of that area. It’s the consumer. It’s no different in fitness.

FITNESS
Consumers are somewhat easy targets for what fitness is selling. And what fitness is selling is “look like this.” Intrinsic to that is, “it’s not ok to look the way you look.”

For so many, the superficial never changes because the depths are never reached. There is no depth in their understanding of fitness. And there is certainly no depth in their understanding of what drives their personal need for fitness, or rather, how they just just want to look better naked. Yes, that makes me angry.

NUTRITION
In much the say way as exercise, nutrition is often relegated to fat loss or muscle gain aka “the way you look.” But even that isn’t what makes me the angriest. There are two things about nutrition as sold sticks out to me.

Again, these things are due to superficial understanding of nutrition. The first is that to be ripped is to be healthy. Having low levels of body fat is the furthest thing from health for the majority of us. And in order to most us to achieve fitness model leanness, we have to take unhealthy measures.

The second thing is that people relate leanness to fitness. Low levels of body fat can correlate to higher levels of speed. They can also correlate to higher levels of endurance…but you can get lean without either. You can be lean without being specifically fit. If you want to be fit, focus on what you do…and not how you look.

SOCIAL MEDIA
At our inaugural BioPsychology course, I asked our students, “How many Psychology books have you read?” I thought the average answer would have been in the 1-5 range. The average was less than 1.

And it’s not that my students were unintelligent. They were likely of above average intelligence. But they were ignorant.

And ignorance is acceptable, but ignorance of ignorance is unacceptable. When I look at my social media feeds, I see people so sure of their opinions, it makes me angry. Their confidence is inverse to their competence.

How can people think well if they don’t know what they’re thinking with? Short answer, they can’t. And the fact they think they’re thinking well, well….makes me angry.

MARTIAL ARTS
Beyond my wife and kids, probably the greatest love of my life is the martial arts. While I could write volumes about what I love about martial arts, this is about what I hate. There’s plenty to hate, too.

What does a Star Trek convention, Comic-Con, and Martial Arts have in common? It’s a lot of people that like playing dress up. Some are playing dress up because it’s easier to pretend to be someone of value rather than becoming someone of value.

And it’s easier pretend they have powers instead of doing the work to actually get what powers they can have. It’s easier to become part of something else than it to become more than what one was before. And easy shouldn’t be what the Martial Arts are about, at all.

POLITICS
For regular readers, you know I’m very libertarian leaning, even minarchist. There’s a good reason for this. It has to do with the science I teach.

BioFeedback teaches people how to follow their own inner compass…to allow their sensations to guide their actions. BioFeedback maximizes localization of power. In doing so, it minimizes centralization of power.

When people allows their sensations to guide their actions, they get more sensitive and more active. When they feel something needs to be done, they do it. When peoples’ actions are guided by something outside of themselves, like a strong central state, it disrupts their motivation…and both activity and sensitivity go down. People can’t sense what needs to be done and can’t do what needs to be done, either…this makes me angry.

SCIENCE
I am a scientist. I say that without irony or grandiosity. But I say in it the same way someone might say, “I’m a Christian.”

Like religion, science is a belief system. Science is a belief in a set of principles and practices. Just as many people say, “I love Christ but hate Christians,” I often feel the same way about other so-called scientists.

I find the minority of scientists perform good science. They overestimate their understanding of other sciences, they poorly design their own experiments, misinterpret their experimental results, they don’t understand the limits of empiricism, under value both anecdotal and outlying evidence, and don’t sufficiently question the premises of their respective science, and more importantly, their own assumptions. Many scientists are giving science a bad name…and that’s something that angers me.

ACADEMIA
I love learning. I love good teachers. But unfortunately learning and good teaching is a rare feature in academics.

In what should be a meritorious environment, upper learning is ruined by those who frame it. What’s behind the facade of college is high school. It’s politics and those who can play it best teach the rest of us.

Education and Knowledge/Wisdom/Intelligence are at cross purposes. It makes sacred profane. This is something that makes me angry.

ANGER
All of these areas that make me angry share one thing in common: they’re all products of human beings. They’re flawed because we’re flawed. It’s the flaws that anger me…especially my own.

Every emotion evolved and remains because it serves a purpose, anger included. Anger likely iterated from the simpler emotion of rage. Rage was the emotion an animal felt when fighting for its life.

For most of us, if we’re angry, it’s not because our life is in imminent danger. There may be an impediment to what we’re trying to accomplish or avoid…and not being able to overcome it or navigate it “makes us angry.”

But us to change the conditions that make us angry, we can’t remain angry. We have to calm down, get our wits about us and take a different tact. And that’s why I so rarely write about what makes me angry. I don’t want to be any more angry than I have to be. I want things to change…for the better….and that’s why I usually don’t write about anger.

WHEN TO IMPROVE

improve-3dWhen people first come to BioFeedback training, they utilize it in order to improve in the gym. But if they come to our courses, they learn that this approach to improvement isn’t relegated to the gym. Improvement is for everywhere.

In our BioMechanics 2 course, we show gym rats that they can be athletes. In BioMechanics 3 course, we demonstrate that pain and injury can be temporary. In our BioChemistry course, we show that the dynamism of what made us is required in the nutritional (and beyond) daily remaking of us. And in our BioPsychology course, we show that there are far more opportunities for progress than we imagined.

In this article, we’re going to be drawing from all our courses. We’re going to show you all of the areas you can make progress in. And in doing so, hopefully you’ll learn that progress isn’t just a part of life…progress can be your life.

Your body isn’t what it used to be. For some, that’s a good thing. For most, it’s not.

For too many of us, the height of our physical abilities peaked somewhere between high school and college. And they have been periodically declining since. We’re treat a life sentence like a death sentence.

What we teach in THE MOVEMENT is the closest thing to a fountain of youth. We show that while time can’t be reversed, movement and all its qualities can be regained…and advanced. What movement would do if you knew you’d eventually be able to do it? Sounds like it’s time for you to improve.

There’s something physical you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe it’s run a marathon, summit a high peak, learn ballroom dancing or dunk a basketball. But there’s always been something that’s held you back.

For whatever reason you’ve bought into an antiquated understanding of aging. You don’t get old and stop moving. You stop moving and get old.

You watch videos of people on YouTube and wish you could do what they do. With enough practice, you can. With enough time, you can.

Break down big skills into small skills. Practice small skills and put them together. Do this until they’re big skills.

Time is going to pass anyway. Your time is going to pass anyway. You might as well improve.

You’re impaired. Maybe at one point you were injured. But only a part of you was healed.

You’re no longer in pain. But now you tell yourself you’ve got a bum knee or a bad back. Knees that don’t move against resistance with speed will eventually be bad. Backs that don’t support load and move every way they can will eventually go out.

The body has an amazing healing capacity. But not doing something because it hurt in the past isn’t healing. It’s avoiding. Work your way back to what you could do before. But don’t stop there. Then do more than you’ve ever done before.

Your body doesn’t look how you want it to look and you think your diet has something to do with it. And it does. So you stop eating the same old things you’ve always eaten and start eating new things.

And it works for a while. You think it’s working because you’re eating healthier. But what if that wasn’t why?

What if it’s working because it’s different and your body needs different from time to time. In our BioChemistry course, we teach this…but take it to a whole other level. It’s not as much that you need different…you’re needs are different…all the time.

If you’re not looking how you want to look, diet is likely playing a part in that. But what’s playing a biggest part is you telling your body what it needs…not asking it what it needs. If you’re stressed, you may need something more predigested or what others call “processed.” And if you’re feeling well, you may be craving more whole foods.

The problem isn’t just how your body looks. But the solution is to connect your dietary actions with your dietary sensations. And this is another time to improve.

You’re not happy. You’re not happy with your life. You may think the issue is with the way you feel. Or you may think it’s with the way you act. You’re right.

There’s nothing wrong with being unhappy. So called “negative” feelings inform our actions. But there is something wrong if we’re unhappy all the time.

In our BioPsychology course, we teach that no matter the issue, whether we don’t like the way we feel or don’t feel or we don’t like the way we’re acting or not acting, the key is to re-connect our actions with our sensations. We have to know how we feel. We have to know what actions are appropriate. We have to find what of these actions we can take.

No matter what problem we have, whether it be more mechanical, chemical, or psychological, we can improve upon it. But how to improve is the critical factor. Know how you feel. Know how to act. And act where you can…and improvement is guaranteed.

You Are Not What You Eat

I am so much more than that

Food pictures abound on social media. I’ve posted them. I’ve posted them a lot.  I’ve even posted them very recently. But I don’t want to do it anymore. In fact, I don’t think I’ll be doing it anymore. What I eat is not who I am.

“You are what you eat.” I call BS! What did Mother Theresa eat? What did Martin Luther King Jr eat? What did Jesus eat? I cannot imagine anyone that was ever helped or inspired by any of these individuals would have ever refused their help based on their diet.

I do not believe that I am only what I eat. I know I am so much more than that. My wife and kids don’t define me by what I eat. They define me by who I am and what I can do. To them, I am a helper, a hugger, a teacher, a comfort, and a support. And they want me to eat anything that is going to allow me to do all of those things better.

Does your food help you feel better? Does your food help you do better? If not, eat something else. Eat anything else that helps you be a better person. Does your food help you be a better father, mother, brother, sister, relative, coworker, neighbor, friend, or fellow human being? If so, wonderful! Bon Appetit!

I am solely interested in eating so that I can feel better and do better. What I eat never has and never will make me better, or worse, than anyone else. What I eat doesn’t make me better THAN others. What I eat makes me better FOR others.

I really have zero interest in eating anything based on what others think about it, and I am no longer going to display my food as though I do. I am not going to post food pictures anymore because whether you like it, love it, want to comment on it, or hate it, really is of no consequence to you. What matters is my physiological response to my food, not anyone else’s social response. #mybodymydiet

If you’re too worried about what everyone is eating, you’re going to miss what everyone is capable of doing. Instead of posting pictures of what I am about to eat, maybe I’ll post pictures, videos, and updates of all that I can do since I’ve eaten.

What can you do since you’ve eaten? What can you do better, now? What can you do that makes you more “you?” How are you doin’ better now? #doinbetternow

“Eat better?” No. You are so much more than just what you eat. Eat to do better. You are also what you do not just what you eat.

Amor Fati

AMOR_FATI“…Amor fati, the “love of your fate,” which is in fact your life…”
–Friedrich Nietzsche

Is BioFeedback Based Testing for you?
It depends.

Since its inception, there has been a misconception
as to what BioFeedback Based Testing is for.

I cannot count how many times I’ve been asked,
“Frankie, how can I get this to test better?”
“How can I get this to test well more often?”

But Biofeedback Based Testing is not designed
so that someone can acquire a specific function.

It’s not going to magically make you a:
-Powerlifter
-Olympic Lifter
-Fitness Celebrity
-Gymnast
-Cage Fighter
-Special Operator

If you have it within you to be any of these things,
BioFeedback Based Testing
will you get there safer (and often faster)
than any other approach.

BioFeedback Based Testing is not designed
so that someone can acquire a specific form.

BioFeedback Based Testing is not going to magically make you
-lose every ounce of fat you have
-pack your frame with rippling muscles
and while we’re at it
-it won’t grant you eternal life, either.
Entropy is eventually going to win.

Too many who have learned of BioFeedback Based Testing
have attempted to fashion themselves into what they are not…
never having left the current
of the current fitness industry.

You, too, could spend your time using Biofeedback Based Testing
like GYM MOVEMENT and THE MOVEMENT PROTOCOL
to see if you can become more like others
by testing to see if you can do what they do.

But is that work the best use of your time?
Do you need be more like others?

Just imagine if:
-Steve Jobs benched daily to fill out his black turtle necks
-Sister Theresa allocated more of her time to a bikini friendly body
-Meryl Streep kept her hair dyed and face immobile from fillers and botox
-The Dalai Lama stayed up on current movies, music and fashion
-Louis CK had hair plugs and six pack abs

Wouldn’t our world be a lot worse
because they were trying to be
someone else’s idea of better?

Immaterial of what is said…
your nature, your family, your community, your country, your species, your world
doesn’t need you to be something or someone else.

There is a place in our society for:
-Professional Athlete
-Strength Athlete
-Celebrity (Fitness, or otherwise)
-Fighters
-Soldiers

Nature has produced far more roles in human society
than these “halo-ed” few
and human society needs all its roles filled.

Which means,
we need you to be yourself
we need you to do your own thing
even though you are not just one thing.

You may be a:
-parent
-partner
-child
-sibling
-business person
-hobbyist

Do you really need to workout like a cage fighter?
Do you really need to look like a fitness model?
Does that extra plate on the bar make your life that much better?

I don’t know the answers to those questions,
but here is what I do know:

Every second you spend doing things that aren’t good for you to do
that aren’t the best use of your time,
you’re becoming a worse at things
that are good for you which may include being a
-parent
-partner
-child
-sibling
-business person
-hobbyist
and whatever else you are.

Your body needs to be able to move (not exercise) in all the ways a
-parent
-partner
-child
-sibling
-business person
-hobbyist
-and whatever else you are
moves.

It also need to be able to move (not exercise) in all the ways that a
-parent
-partner
-child
-sibling
-business person
-hobbyist
-and whatever else you are
doesn’t move.

When your body can do what it needs to do
(because it can move in the ways it needs to),
Don’t you think you will look good enough?
Don’t you think you will feel good enough?

What if you spent your time investing
in being better in the roles that are yours to fill
instead of attempting to fill a role that isn’t yours to fill?

And so I ask you:
Are you trying to be someone else’s idea of better?
Is that why you want more muscle and less fat?
Is that why you want to be able to do that feat of strength?

Would you still be interested in those things
if no one else were watching or would ever know?

More importantly,
Are you doing what is yours to do?
That can be a difficult determination.
But these questions helps me when I am faced with that question:
-Will I be good at this?
-Will I remain passionate about this?
-How does this feel?
-Does this make me better?
-Does this make others around me better?

Are you going to try to or test towards being something or someone you’re not?
If so, BioFeedback Based Testing, even BioFeedback Based Living,
is the slowest way to become something you’re not
but it is the fastest way to become more of what you are.

So, is BioFeedback for you?
Let me leave you with betters question that have the same answer:
-Are you OK with becoming what your body “wants” you to be?
-Can you love your fate?

Amor Fati!

5 Ways to Know What to Eat Without Thinking

nothingsoundsgoodtoeat

How often do you ask of yourself, your partner, your family, or your friends, “What sounds good to eat?” Daily, if not multiple times a day, right? “What sounds good?” seems to be one of the most common ways of communicating about what to eat. And I actually think it may unconsciously be doing a lot of harm. Let me tell you why.

What are the most commonly recognized of our senses? They are sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. Of those general senses, which one is least associated with eating?

Do you touch food? Yes. Do you see food? Yes. Do you smell food? Yes. Do you taste food? Yes, of course. Do you hear food? No. Then why are communicating about food in terms of sound? “What sounds good?” Huh?

When you ask “What sounds good?”, you are really asking someone what they think. You are communicating more about thinking and less about feeling. And this is where the danger comes in. Your body is set up to communicate what it needs, and when, through feeling. You don’t have to think about sleeping, you feel tired. You don’t have to think about drinking water, you feel thirsty. You don’t even have to think about eating, you feel hungry. And I am here to tell you don’t have to think very much about what you need to eat if you’ll just feel it.

Here are some ways to better determine how your meal will make you feel…

1 – Look at your food. Do you like what you see? What a food looks like matters. Its appearance can stimulate or inhibit digestion. Does its appearance make you feel better?

2 – Touch your food. How does it feel? How do you feel? If you don’t think the way food feels matters consider “mouthfeel.” It represents how it will be digested and what nutrients might be available for the body. How a food feels to you to touch is important when it comes to how good a food currently is for us.

3 – Smell your food. Does that smell make you feel better? Smell is a big part of taste. How a food smells to you will play a large role in how it tastes, and taste is very important feedback about what your body needs. 

4 – Taste your food. If you don’t trust all of this other feedback, then taste the food. A very small bite can do the trick. Taste it. Do you like it? How do you feel? Do you want more of it, and do you want to feel more like that? Be willing, even if you’ve just spent the time to cook or get some food, to not eat whatever it is that doesn’t feel good.

5 – Lastly, if you really have to think about your food then think about it through your senses. Imagine how that food would feel, look, smell, and taste. How you feel as you imagine yourself sensorily experiencing that food will be a better indicator of how good that food will be for you than asking “what sounds good to eat?”

Can we please stop asking, “What sounds good to eat”?

It’s far more accurate and helpful to ask, “What feels good to eat?”

This Is The Work, Do The Work

DO-THE-WORK
“This is the work. Do the work.”

If one looks at “the work” through the lens of BioMechanics,
the work is the rehabilitation of ranges of motion lost from neglect and specialization in life.

If one looks at “the work” through the nutritional lens of BioChemistry,
the work is the acquisition and restoration of the function of utilizing micro and macronutrients in as many different ways as possible.

If one looks at “the work” through the lens of BioPsychology, the work is the recovery and development of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that increase our ability to survive and thrive.

Knowing is half the battle.  Doing “the work” is contingent upon being able to see where and what work can be done. To focus on “the work” through any one lens is to not see “the work.” This biases blinds us and sends us on a downward spiral of hypofunction and dysfunction.

And we’re all hypofunctional, dysfunctional, and blind. The answer that leads us towards function, towards being able to sense and act on our deficits…is a question:
“Can I do…?”

-Can I do something BioMechanically?
-Can I do something BioChemically?
-Can I do something BioPsychologically?

“Can I do?” is “the work.”

Knowing is half the battle,
doing is the other half.

“This is the work. Do the work.”

Should I Lose Weight? Part 2: Health

hungry

I loathe the fatness industry the fitness industry has become. It has a very exclusive aesthetic drive, and as we saw in Part 1, it’s results can be quite destructive. The Fatness Industry is almost solely concerned with our shape, our form. It tells us that our composition, our percentage of parts (bodyweight, body fat, or Body Mass Index), is the most important determinant of our health. It forcefully demands us to believe that fat loss and muscle gain are always synonymous with better health. What does the data suggest?

National Center for Health Statistics and Cornell University has compiled one of the most comprehensive studies analyzing over 600,000 subjects with up to a 30 year follow up. What did they find? “Among non-smoking, white men, the lowest mortality rate was found among those with a BMI between 23 and 29.” Not only does this show that lowest mortality was found among those considered overweight (BMI between 25-29.9), but also that there is a range of healthy weights and body frames, not just one strict, ideal standard.

The latter assertion, that we healthily come in all shapes and sizes, is evidenced in the studies findings on women, “in regard to non-smoking, white women, authors concluded the available data indicated that the BMI range correlating with lowest mortality rate was extremely broad, from around 18 to 32, meaning a woman of average height could weigh anywhere within an 80 pound range without seeing any statistically significant change in her risk to premature death.”

First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1)the authors concluded that their findings demonstrate a wide range of BMIs consistent with minimum mortality, and do not suggest that the optimal BMI is at the lower end of the distribution for any age group.

Paul Campos, The Obesity Myth, “The only other large study to look into the question of the health effects of intentional weight loss – the Iowa Women’s Health Study – produced some rather extraordinary data in regard to the assumption that trying to get thin is the appropriate ‘cure’ for the ‘disease’ of above-average weight. The Iowa study is particularly striking, in that it featured no less than 108 different statistical comparisons, based on age, initial weight and health status, and cause of death. In seventy-nine of these comparisons, intentional weight loss was associated with higher mortality rates. By contrast, the number of comparisons in which INTENTIONAL weight loss ended up being associated with lower mortality rates was ZERO. This is especially significant information, given that the Iowa study is one of only a few studies that have distinguished between intentional and unintentional weight loss when measuring the effects of weight loss on health…”

According to Campos, obesity investigator, “…in almost all large scale epidemiological studies little or no correlation between weight and health can be found for a large majority of the population and indeed what correlation does exist suggests that it is more dangerous to be just a few pounds underweight than dozens of pounds overweight.”

For example consider the specific finding that, “…the association between thinness and premenopausal breast cancer is STRONGER than that between fatness and postmenopausal breast cancer.

The editors of The New England Journal of Medicine corroborate, “…the case for the claim that fat is a significant health risk is limited, fragmentary and often ambiguous.

It’s very evident that weight loss and health are not the synonymous pair that too many of us believe them to be. Fat loss is not always associated with health gain, and fat gain is not always associated with health loss. What happens if you ONLY lose fat? What happens if you ONLY gain muscle? If ANYTHING, physiologically, goes only one way, or one way too long, disease and death are imminent.

Now, I’m not arguing that body weight and composition don’t have significance. Problems arise throughout the spectrum.  We all have different limits. But who’s to say whether it is time to lose or gain? Who’s to say that, right now, you don’t need more fat and less muscle for better health?

The problem with a weight/shape/form focus is that by itself it is not a reliable indicator of progress or for which direction progress is to be made. Healthier weight and body composition, like life, will trend both up and down. Our shape is a response to how we live our life, and better comes in all different forms.

Simply stated, you should not, cannot, and will not, only lose fat and gain muscle. Thus do not use it as the gold standard of healthy achievement. It’s not! Our focus on form is fallible, and the Fatness Industry is failing. Instead, focus on function. That’s Fitness.

But what areas of function should we focus on? And how do we overcome the pressures of popular aesthetic morality in favor of the influence of personal perpetual progress?

Stay Tuned for Part 3

Should I Lose Weight? Part 1: Beauty

barbie-and-ken

I’ve been in the fitness industry for 15 years, and over the years there’s become more and more I dislike about it. I think what I dislike the most is the obsession with our physical form. It’s not a fitness industry. It’s a fatness industry. And it’s falsehoods are killing us.

Greg Crister, Harper’s Magazine, wrote about our culture, “No one, and I mean NO ONE, in the pages of the glossy magazines within which the elite project their image of themselves is anything like fat. The hierarchy of acceptable body types is becoming more rigid and exclusive than ever before.”

And within ALL of the thousands of “beautiful” images are hidden some rather ugly statistics.

Women and Children, first:
-Up to 97% of women report, at some point, “HATING” their own body.
-47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
-69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape
-42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner
-81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat
-The average dieting age for girls is 8 years old

Men:
“The muscularity of ideal male body representations present an extremely, and largely unattainable, muscular ideal male body type, which is equivalent to the unattainable thin female ideal” (Lever, Frederick, & Peplau, 2006; Schooler & Ward, 2006) (Olivardia, Pope, Borowiecki, & Cohane, 2004)
-Inadequacy in males often leads to abnormal eating and substance abuse

In total…
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported Americans spent approximately $30 billion in 1992 on all types of diet programs and products. Marketdata estimated in its 2007 study the size of the U.S. weight loss market at $55 billion. It is now estimated to have reached over $60 Billion.

There are well over 100 million people “dieting” every single day in the United States. And 35% of those “occasional dieters” progress into pathological dieting (disordered eating), and as many as 25%, advance to full-blown eating disorders, reports the Philadelphia Eating Disorder Examiner. And eating disordered individuals have the highest rate of mortality of all mental disorders.

Anywhere from 65 – 98% of dieters return to their pre-dieting weight within three years, according to Gary Foster, Ph.D., clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and Rudolph L. Leibel M.D. of Columbia University Medical Center.

Wherever the actual percentage of failing dieters falls, the majority of people are never going to see the projected expectation of physical beauty expressed by their body. According to The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, It’s estimated that the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.

Even though the odds of almost anyone radically altering their weight indefinitely are dismal, it is still possible. But at what cost? If we don’t want to embrace the unique beauty of the Individual, the majority will continue to find themselves devastated by the physical, psychological, and emotional destruction of believing that all of us should fit into 5%.

Roberta Pollack Seid in her book, Never Too Thin, Why Women Are At War With Their Bodies, concludes “We pursue thinness with a fervor that borders on the religious. We believe in physical perfectibility and see its pursuit as a moral obligation. The virtue that presumably will put us on this road is our ability to control one of our most fundamental instincts – eating. We have come to believe thinner is healthier, happier, and more beautiful as though it were handed down on Mount Sinai. But those are not divine truths. They are prejudices with a complex history. They have led to a false religion that does not deliver what it promises.

Seid continued, “…Never before have so many people believed that the shape of their lives depended on the shape of their bodies.” But their measurements, their weight, are a matter of health,.. Right? Is weight a useful predictor of health?

The answers may surprise you…
Stay Tuned for Part 2

*Note – statistics cited from National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, University of Colorado, and National Eating Disorders Association

Two Questions That Forever Changed How I Eat

foodofthefuture

I used to pride myself as being a very “healthy” eater: limited foods, from even more limited sources, as “whole” as possible, always. I didn’t think of it as restrictive. It was “clean.” I believed in only eating “natural, real food.” My way of eating was more than about being healthy, it was moral…or so I thought.

I campaigned fervently for my righteous way of eating. I taught “real food nutrition” at every opportunity, to anyone I met. I changed the way A LOT of people thought about food, and how they constructed their diet. And A LOT of people’s health changed for the better. I was validated…for a while.

The results didn’t always last. Not only were my results waning, but so were others. I was seeing more people that weren’t instantly cured by giving up “unhealthy, processed” foods. And I even encountered people who were getting worse upon eating the “good, whole, real” foods. I could not imagine what was so inherently wrong with these people that the “healthy” foods were not working, and even making them sick!

Until one day, while ruminating about others food indecency and their perplexingly positive results, I had a thought that would change my life. I very quietly, and dubiously, asked myself one question, “What if… just, what if… I was… (clears throat, swallows)… wrong?” Was it possible that it was my beliefs, and not their bodies, that were wrong?

Do we, as a collective scientific community, know everything? Uhhh, No. There is a genetics professor at UT Austin that says at the beginning of each new semester, “Everything I taught 10 years ago is complete nonsense today. And everything I teach today will be complete nonsense in 10 years.”

Our model of every thing is limited and incomplete. We are constantly learning new things, with new pieces, from new technological breakthroughs.  What good is the scientific process if we are not willing to change our perspective when given new pieces to the puzzle?

Stephen Hawking, world renowned theoretical physicist, states in A Brief History of Time, “you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory…” One outlying, seemingly contradictory experience changes EVERYTHING, and I had witnessed a lot.

Hawking concludes with, “Each time new experiments are observed to agree with the predictions the theory survives, and our confidence in it is increased; but if ever a new observation is found to disagree, we have to abandon or modify the theory.

My confidence in my dietary beliefs was crumbling beneath me. And then my long held beliefs about diet and nutrition were revolutionized with 2 simple questions:

“Have I ever had a good outcome/positive response with any declared “unhealthy” food?”
Yes.

“Have I ever had a bad outcome/negative response to “healthy” food?”
Yes.

Answering yes meant my model of a healthy diet was wrong. And that was hard for me. But changing, despite my experiences, seemed harder.

Deane Juhan in his book,Job’s Body, eloquently states my struggle,
“…Unfortunately, if the history of mankind, or even of modern science, has any lasting certainty to offer us, it is the fact that it is entirely possible for rational individuals to be absolutely certain about notions that later prove to be utterly preposterous… We must escape our pain, quiet our fears, and we must act, today, now. For this reason we are always tempted to adopt beliefs and to defend them staunchly as truths, because the possibilities which they imply profoundly soothe our anxieties and produce some measure of practical results, rather than because their actualities have been borne out by unequivocal proofs or continue to offer the very best solution to current problems.”

The problems that had occurred from defending, adhering, and negatively adapting to my old beliefs were far worse, for myself and everyone I interacted with, than the momentary pain and anxiety of adopting the new. In fact it was that temporarily uncomfortable space that led me to the realization that our diet has never been, nor will ever be, perfect. That’s NEVER been biology’s goal. But it could be better. It was time for a new model.

With all that I currently know, I believe a healthier diet model includes these three important distinctions:

Dietary Distinction 1: Individual
We are all different, and we should respect one another’s dietary reflection of that.
Does your diet reflect yours?

Dietary Distinction 2: Inclusive
A healthier diet includes ALL of the foods that have EVER elicited a personally positive response. Has Yours?

Dietary Distinction 3: Increasing
Biology’s greatest offering is the possibility of ever increasing one’s functional capacity. A healthier diet model seeks, at every opportunity, to increase the range of foods from all sources that makes one feel good and function better. Does yours?

So now the questions turn to you:
Have you ever had a positive response to a “negative” food?
Have you ever had a negative response to a “positive” food?

My résponses to these questions forever changed my diet which leads to my last question:
How will your response to food change your relationship to food…how will you change your diet?