Tag Archives: ultimate diet

Fitness Article : The Ultimate Diet (Happiness and Longevity) Part III

To explore the impact of diet on our lives. We would normally try to look at longevity and quality of life. One of the oldest and healthiest populations on earth are the Okinawans, who on average live up to 78-86 years of age. And they get older in a much better state. The statistics reveal a significantly lower risk of heart attack and stroke, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimers. And improved quality of life, living with full functionality like a person 30 years younger, with lucid minds, physically strong bodies and active sex lives (without the use of Viagra). So what are the secrets of the Okinawans ? I would venture a guess its 50% based on the food they eat and exercise as well as 50% (maybe much more) on their outlook in life.

Diet

We have seen most faddish diets, that promote low carbohydrates, high protein and sometimes even ridiculous one like the grapefruit diet and many other fad diets that are difficult to stick to. The traditional Okinawan diet of consists of about large and frequent portions of vegetables,  fruits, cereals and soy products. Okinawans take fish weekly and meat and dairy products very sparingly. Their diet is low in calories and contains a lot of vegetables with carbohydrates, protein, and fat providing 85%, 9% and 6% of total calories. This is in huge contrast to the average consumption of meat in the United States, which averaged 224 pounds in 2010 compared to the average Okinawan who consumes around 40 pounds of meat.

I am not eschewing a vegan lifestyle, but maybe our consumption of meat and calories are in excess comparably. And it isnt that the Okinawans are genetically long lived. In the 20th century, 100,000 Okinawans migrated to Brazil, where they adopted the Brazilian diet which rich in meat. This actually reduced their average lifespan by 17 years.

Also, fast foods started appearing with the set up of American Air bases in the 20th century, the obesity levels, cardiovascular diseases and premature deaths of the young reached higher levels in Okinawa.

Exercise

Cardiovascular disease and hypertension, symptoms of a developed countries woes are highly prevalent. Whereas healthcare has moved in tandem, we seem to forget that the quality of life is what counts, not how long you live.

Exercise is of paramount importance, yet now in todays cubicled rat race, many people are hardly getting enough exercise with the rich diet, making it a recipe for disaster. Looking back at our intrepid Okinawans. They practice tai-chi, the art of respiration which is found to greatly reduce stress levels and promote well being and aids in stress reduction.They also walk several kilometers daily, travel on mountain bikes (Yes, even the 70 year olds), practice karate, kendo, dance, and work on their personal gardens.

All these provide a stark contast to the gym environment, where people achieve a merciless efficiency in training their bodies and constantly pushing way past their limits to get the perfect swimsuit look and what we think is beneficial to us might be done in such a stressful way that it might bring more harm than good.

Outlook in life

Finally and most importantly, I find that the main indicator of a healthy, long and fulfilled life like that the Okinawans achieve is through the simple things, their outlook. The people of Okinawa are linked in an intricate social network (not Facebook), that makes them feel connected to the environment and people they are with. They achieve a sense of importance and spirituality and awe of life that we often take for granted. When they take part in physical activity,it is not an isolated-something-you-have-to-prove-kind (like run a marathon under 4 hours thingy), but activity them makes them feel as part of active members of the community instead of old dull people.

They form supportive links and have a positive outlook towards life. Resulting in  low levels of stress and low depression levels. Their lives revolve around connectivity (not of the virtual sort) with real connections with people who love and encourage them in life. This I find is the crucial thing that might be missing in our aim to strive always to be the best looking body.

It might not be the best body or best brains that we want to possess. But at the end of the day,its the meaning we attach in our lives reflected by the importance we have in other peoples lives that matter, that really makes us feel and look good.

I feel the purpose we diet is not only to look good, but more importantly, to make us feel good. With our activity levels, what we eat and our day-to-day happiness all playing an integral part. Our outlook in life greatly determines on whether we succeed or fail and its far greater to be quietly happy than successful and wanting.

 

Fitness Article : The Ultimate Diet (Psychology) Part II

The data isnt pretty wikipedia states that
“The U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 1994 indicated that 59% of American men and 49% of women had BMIs over 25. Morbid obesity—a BMI of 40 or more—was found in 2% of the men and 4% of the women. The newest survey in 2007 indicates a continuation of the increase in BMI: 63% of Americans are overweight or obese, with 26% now in the obese category (a BMI of 30 or more). “

This is probably not the way you would like to evolve

With growing obesity, many people are resorting to diets and get thin quick wats to lose weight. Diet is fast becoming a mainstream dirty word, normally associated with losing weight, and waif like anorexic women or beefy men exhibiting 6-12% hyper low bodyfat achieved through a cocktail of chicken breasts, tuna, steroids and powerful fatburners.

Many people view diets as ways to manipulate the body into burning high amounts of fat, but there is a good news and bad news, the good news is that its possible to lose weight rapidly if you employ hardcore techniques that involve starvation, drugs and improper eating and then theres the bad news, that it doesnt last, one year or even 5 years down the road, you are going to have a damaged body and face struggles as you body tries swing the pendulum back to your original state.

My point is that you cant diet without permanent changes to your lifestyle, and dieting is eating more of the right things instead of eating less. We all intuitively know what is the right things to eat, toufu or burger, brown rice or white rice. But we normally take this with an attitude of invincibility, thinking that we can shrug off the chocolate bar or the extra burgers. Or even relishing in the comfort that such food brings.

The Psychology of Over Eating

We have heard of binge drinking where people drink themselves silly. But theres also binge eating where people drown (or rather down) their sorrows in food. It doesnt help that ALOT of the odds are stacked against us by food producers who spend millions creating the perfect and most addictive foods that you would like to put into your mouth to maximise the gratification and sense of addiction to fat, salt and sugar. There is no doubt that much of what we eat in restaurants or what we can find in supermarkets is fat on fat on sugar on fat with salt. Even the salads are drenched with thousand island dressing and liberally sprinkled with bacon bits, because this is the thing that makes food SEXY.

Never let your Food be your Drug

If losing weight seems like a huge task to you, chances are that the greater your sense of shame you link with your appearance, the more you’ll be inclined to feel hopeless about losing weight. When you find you cant break the hold of food over your life or cant seem to take the effort to exercise, this breaks your confidence and spirals into other areas in your life.

That snickers bar just had the last laugh.

Psychology and Proper Eating

The best way to learn how to control our urges is to realise that eating creates positive emotions. There is no doubt about it, when you reach for that Hagen Daaz ice cream after your break up, you are reaching for an instant lift me, a sense of power and certainty that when you have the first bite you would immediately feel good. Its an instant Prozac, just that it kills your confidence and youself ultimately in the long run.

Emotional eating is not the way. One way to prevent that is to change your perspective about food. Do you eat to live or live to eat, make distinctions about food. Is food a fuel or is it a drug to you. Would you want high performance petrol in your vehicle or would you want sloppy oil coursing through your veins. Choose a positive way to view eating and youself, merge a positive self image with proper eating. Associate health and vitality with overeating instead of pleasure.

If you are guilty of emotional eating. Here are some ways you can prevent it.

  1. Learn to recognise when you are overeating and where you do it most. In the office, or on your couch.
  2. Determine the situations and feelings that you go through that precede the bouts of overeating 
  3. Ask yourself HARD questions and try to find out why you are doing this, the answer is usually deeper than because this tastes good so i would like to eat it. If proper thought be given, your reason should be more of “Finding solace or comfort in food” , or “venting frustrations by eating”. 
  4. Allow the feelings to sink in, and learn to recognise them. Appreciate that they are giving you the message and that you are doing what you think is best at that time to make yourself feel good.
  5. Also realise that you have to let go of the feeling and find methods to prevent yourself from getting into such situation. Choose alternate behaviours or avoid going to places that you think you would over-eat. 
  6. Reinforce and reward yourself for the positive action that you take, one less chocolate bar per day, cut down take small steps in reducing your overall intake. 
  7. Find support groups and exercise groups and learn from people who have taken massive action and succeeded, and learn from the ones that most resemble your situation. 

It isn’t easy but its definitely worth it


The only true way that you can lose weight and make it stay off is making adjustments to the way you think and the things you do. According to Einstein ” You cant solve a problem with the same mindset that created it”. Similarly, we need to create a new mindset, that would install the habit of binge eating and the cycle of obesity, hopelessness and low self-esteem.
Learn to eat things that are good for you and develop the discipline to eat them. You will reach a stage where your body would reject the junk food physically (in some cases people would feel nauseous when consuming foods that are high in oil, fat, sugar or salt) and start accepting the healthy foods you eat are tastier. That is when you have installed the proper eating habits and it would be easier to carry on eating healthy permanently from there.  It isnt easy but it worth doing.