Principle: Getting my needs met
Human beings have a variety of needs, the most basic of which concern those that directly concern our survival. Oxygen (air), sleep and water are the most important and immediate, whereas light, food (energy and nutrition) and mobility (body movement) trail closely behind. Most of us manage to survive and meet these basic needs, but in order to thrive it is vital to meet these needs in a quality way. I can find out which behaviours will result in me fulfilling these needs in a high quality manner and then proceed in turning each of these new behaviours into action practices for Self-Change Projects.
In order for this book to be concise, I will not go into great depths in describing these practices, but just cover the basic outlines and most important elements of them.
Nutrition / Food: Stop the Carb Craze
A human body needs food for two main purposes: for energy (fuel for our bodily processes) and for nutrition (vitamins, minerals and essential building blocks for the body). To meet these two needs of my body I focus on eating the food that provides the most efficient energy and is the most nutritionally dense (packed with vitamins, minerals and essential building blocks). Energy metabolism in the cells of my body is most efficient when the hormones for energy regulation in my body are working appropriately.
The hormones that regulate energy (sources, i.e. glucose and free fatty acids) metabolism and storage in my body are Insulin and Glucagon.
Eating large amounts of carbohydrate in my diet will disrupt the optimal functioning of Insulin and Glucagon and will result in inefficient energy metabolism. I have outlined how this process happens in two other posts on Fats and Carbohydrates.
The modern diet that most people eat in western society contains excessive amounts of (refined) carbohydrates and is nutritionally poor (low in vitamins, minerals, essential building blocks). This is due to newly introduced processed foods (bread, pasta, soda, cookies, dressing, rapeseed oil, chips) that human beings never ate in the wild, as well as agricultural malpractices of destroying fertile soil, using chemical fertilizers, genetic engineering, putting animals in small cages (feedlots), feeding them crap food and putting them on antibiotics.
Native human beings ate mostly wild animals (meat, fish, fowl, eggs) and vegetation, and sometimes fruits, nuts and roots.
These foods are more nutritionally dense and optimize the hormonal functioning of Insulin and Glucagon (and hence, our energy metabolism). I outlined these eating guidelines in an article on the Native Human Eating Style. The most commonly used term for this way of eating is Paleo and its gaining more popularity across the globe via the internet as more and more people are using it to restore the optimal functioning of energy metabolism, lose excess fat stores, gain lean muscle mass, heal inflammation and even recover from Multiple Sclerosis.
But don’t take my word for it. Get informed, do the research, read, explore, investigate and TRY IT OUT for an extended period of time. You can’t trust companies, governmental guidelines and your own taste buds for what’s good food. Food companies want to make the most money by making as cheap food products as possible. This means exploiting animals, soil and ultimately the customer by sacrificing health in the process.
Social Hierarchy and Food in today’s society
Back in the early days when people lived in tribes and hunted and foraged their foods, the most dominant males got the best pieces of meat from any hunted animal, while the worst pieces were left for those lower in the social hierarchy and the dogs. This food distribution would only reinforce the current social hierarchy, the dominant high-rank guys got stronger than those lower in the hierarchy as their bodies received better nutrition.
In today’s society, the lower rungs of society are advised to eat ground-up birdseeds, fruits and vegetables from poor soil and meagre pieces of sick and weak animals. And then they wonder why they get weak, sick, fat and/or stressed out. Then the masses visit a physician in the hopes that the doctor will solve their problems. The pharmaceutical industry then exploits it’s customers by selling them drugs that only treat the symptoms of disease and have a host of unpleasant side-effects. This way, pharmaceutical companies can make mad cash. The last thing they want is for people to heal themselves and become healthy.
They would rather advise people to avoid (saturated) fats and eat a heap of ground-up birdseeds (grain) that disrupts energy metabolism, evokes inflammation, damages Gastro-Intestinal tracts and produces mood swings. In the meantime, people get weaker and weaker from eating too little quality complete protein, healthy fats and organic vegetables. Following this conventional style of eating will not support me in bringing down stress levels, completing hurts and changing in a positive direction, on the contrary.
Therefore, eating habits are one of the first and most basic things to change.
The message is simple:
SUPPORT ORGANIC FARMING
Practice: Grocery Shopping
- Make a list of all the foods you want to eat in a week
- Buy those foods (from organic sources)
- Eat only those foods
- Repeat next week
What I learned is that if it ain’t in the house, I can’t eat it. Simply don’t buy any crap food and make sure to ONLY EAT things in the house. To get an idea of how to eat Paleo, make sure to stock up and eat heaps of the following staples:
- Organic meat (favour ruminants)
- (fatty, small) Fish
- Organic eggs
- Leafy Green vegetables
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, etc.)
- Other vegetables (carrots, beets, mushrooms, leek, etc.)
- Healthy fats (avocado, olive, coconut, organic grassbutter)
And also include some amounts of:
- Low Glycaemic Fruits (berries, prunes, apples, kiwi, etc.)
- Herbs and spices (basil, rosemary, mint, oregano, etc.)
- Nuts (almonds, macadamia’s, cashews, hazels, etc.)
- Starch (yam, sweet potato, brown rice)
Don’t half-ass this shit. Don’t cheat and give into your addictions to shit food. Don’t ‘give yourself a break’ or a ‘treat’ of high-carb crap food. “Don’t be that guy.” (Kelly Starrett, 2010). Do it well. Eat flawless Paleo. Follow it TO THE TEE. Support Organic farming by buying their products. Give your body food it was designed to thrive on. Ditch crap that isn’t helping you in the long-term. When you stick to it in the long-term you won’t need a ‘treat’ anymore, as you natural enjoyment of healthy foods will restore over time.
The idea of desensitization of neurotransmitter receptors applies to taste buds as well. At first, vegetables will taste like nothing as your taste sensitivity has deteriorated from years of high-sugar crap. After a couple months, taste comes back and you’ll enjoy foods a lot more than you used to.
Sleep, Sun, Drink and Breath Well
For my other foundational needs I just make sure that I meet those in a quality way as well. They are perhaps not as difficult to incorporate into my Life, but vital nonetheless. For sleeping I focus on sticking to the natural day/night cycle and ensure I get plenty of sleep so that I can wake up with ease in the morning. The research shows that human beings are able to function well on 5.5 hours of sleep during the night and a 30 minute nap in the afternoon. This optimizes the quality of deep sleep in the night and the quality of wakefulness during the day. Sleeping for 10 hours a day or more can lead to flat-lining of the sleep/wake cycle, which means the difference between our sleeping and waking state starts to diminish. What this means is that you’re more sleepy/drowsy during the day and you sleep less deep during the night.
On the flipside, sleeping to little can lead to sleep deprivation, which is stressful for our system. Most people find that sleeping somewhere between 6-8 hours works best for them. Turn whatever sleeping habits work for you into a practice and make sure to experiment with short naps (30-40 minutes max) and see if they work for you.
Sunlight is another need human beings have. Without the sun, there would be no Life.
So make it a practice to expose your skin and eyes to sunlight (but don’t overdo it).
Enjoy that light.
For drinking habits, stick to drinking plenty of water thru out the day. It’s okay to drink some vegetable or fruit juice (or even some wine) on rare occasions, but stick primarily to water. Get it from a pure source if you can.
Also, Breathe properly. I focus on breathing down into my belly, not just high up in the mouth, nose, throat and chest. Utilize that lung capacity. Oxygen is one of the most important needs all animals have, don’t overlook it. For practice, doing a daily breathing meditation for a few minutes is great, but this can really be done anytime I want to. Putting attention on my breath takes attention away from my mind for a while and works to relax the body and bring down stress levels.
Strength, Mobility and Cardio
As human beings, we have necessity to move around thru the physical world and favourably do so in an elegant and efficient manner. For optimal human movement I require a few bodily conditions, namely, efficient energy metabolism, ideal body composition and mobility (flexibility) of joints.
Efficient energy metabolism is mostly achieved thru eating foods that are in alignment with how our bodies work. I already covered this idea in an earlier section about Paleo eating.
Ideal body composition consists of body fat percentage and the amount of lean muscle mass someone has. Achieving ideal body composition is also mostly achieved by eating in the right way. Cutting back on high-carb foods will ensure that my body stores healthy amounts of fat for storage (instead of too much or too little). Eating plenty of quality complete protein will facilitate healthy muscular development.
A strength training practice will ensure even better muscular development.
Short sessions of heavy lifting work best to stimulate muscle building. One can see tangible results from just 50-60 minutes of strength training a week while doing large compound lifts, although I prefer a little more training.
Below is my current weekly Strength Training Practice.
Session I (60 minutes maximum):
- Back Squats
- Inverse Rows
- Overhead Press
- Bench Press
- Fly exercise
Session II (60 minutes maximum):
- Leg raises
- Abs machine
- Push-up variations
- Barbell or Dumbbell curls
- Triceps exercise
- Front/Side raises
- Fly exercise
- I aim for 3 sets of 8 reps MAXIMUM
- I adjust weight so that I probably won’t get to 3 sets of 8 reps (or barely)
- If I lift 3 sets of 8 reps, I will raise the weight on the next training session
- I lift hard on the way up (against gravity) and slow on the way down (going with gravity)
- I focus on healthy posture and form
- I don’t over-train muscles; I don’t exceed 60 minutes in one session; I don’t do too many sets and reps or extra exercises working the same muscle
- I don’t focus on how much weight I’m lifting or performance, but on challenging my muscles in the appropriate way
- I go for slow, steady and gradual progress, not instant gratification
- I stay away from steroids, shakes and other types of ‘get-big-quick’ faggot products.
Worrying about looks and having the ‘perfect’ body is insecure, fuelled by superficial standards projected by media that want to make money by feeding into people’s insecurities. I focus on eating healthy Paleo with plenty of quality complete protein (organic meat, fish, chicken and eggs) and being a strong guy with healthy muscle development, not sculpting the ‘perfect’ body.
Healthy muscle doesn’t just mean strength; it also includes suppleness and flexibility of that muscle. Unfortunately, this isn’t an area I have a whole lot of expertise and experience in, and the fact that I’ve been quite a stiff motherfucker thru-out my Life (due to 24-years of inflammatory auto-immune gluten/lectin (birdseed) fuck-up) doesn’t really help either. None-the-less, I’m in the process of working on this area and seeing improvements.
Muscles connecting to our joints need some love and attention too. A lot of people spend more and more time sitting these days (whether it is in school, in a desk job, in a car or airplane or just at the couch at home). As it turns out, a lot of sitting shortens muscles around the hip joints and over time, it will decrease hip mobility (flexion and rotation). The more tight and out-of-shape these muscles are, the more I will assume bad posture and poor body movement. This bad posture and poor body movement will put more strain on other bones, joints and muscles in my body (my lower back and knees, for example).
Carrying excess body fat will also add to this problem.
If you don’t want a new knee or hip later on in Life, it would be wise to spend some time investigating, exploring and researching this area and turning it into a practice.
Since I am fairly green in this area, I will put in a reference on an expert on the topic:
Kelly Starrett (www.mobilitywod.com)
Quit the Hamster Wheel
Finally, we arrive at the topic of cardiovascular exercise.
In my view, this form is exercise is over-emphasized, overrated and over-practiced.
Most people think that they can run, cycle, row, swim and/or cross-train their way into health and weight loss. If someone is overweight, the most cliché response is to:
“Eat less, exercise more.”, which is a complete load of bullshit.
As I stated earlier, fat storage is determined by high-carb load via hormones, plus age and genetics also have an influence. Some people grow fatter on a high-carb diet than do others. I never grew fat on high-carb, my body just became scrawny, inflamed and hyperactive instead (not a very chill experience).
The reality of it is that physical activity level is a correlate to our energy metabolism. I got ‘lucky’ because I had a fast metabolism, but the problem with this was that it wore me out and made me hyperactive and unable to chill out. My guess is that this wearing out would eventually force me to slow down later in Life. If our metabolism slows down (due to inefficient insulin/glucagon functioning), we have less energy and thus, are less energized to go do physically active things.
I don’t force myself on a treadmill to burn off those excess fat stores. I put the kinds of food into my body so that my body stops storing excess fat. The amount of food is irrelevant, as satiety stops me from over-eating when eating paleo.
Yes, natural paleo foods are cool like that; they nourish me, fill me up, and leave me satisfied for hours after a meal. A natural by-product is a natural tendency to be more physically active (due to efficient energy metabolism).
I will go for a walk outside, ride my bike to places, lift some barbells, skateboard, dance, do some mobility work, but not stand on a cross-trainer to burn off some calories.
You’re no hamster, so stop running on a hamster wheel.
The next book piece will drop on Monday February 20th and it will cover practices for meeting social and emotional needs…
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