I have been contemplating this for a long time, years actually, and the truth of the concept has only grown stronger as it has percolated. You probably won’t like it very much and most of the fitness industry will most likely disagree with the utmost vehemence because the truth I am about to speak will make already challenging sales tactics seem wholly insurmountable.
It is important to applaud anyone who desires to improve the quality of their life through physical movement and healthy nutrition. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand that I am fixated on helping individuals do that every single day. I write, I post, I make videos, I’ve built an online fitness platform, I have run a brick and mortar fitness facility for more than a decade, and I have travelled the world seeking more information, all in the quest to better assist anyone who truly strives for a better lifestyle actually achieve it.
Discovering truths is sometimes more of a shock than it is a revelation. While it may actually be revolutionary it isn’t always desirable. Alas, I cannot control the laws of the universe no matter how hard I endeavour.
Now we must begin the unenviable task of sharing the truth.
Potential Client: “How long will it take?”
Coach Me: “How long will what take?”
Potential Client: “How long will it take to get into shape?”
Coach Me: “Haha, that is difficult to answer! It depends on a lot of things, like what you consider to ‘be in shape’ means, how dedicated to change you are, what you are willing to do, and how long it has been since you last participated in physical exercise and ate a healthy diet!”
Potential Client: “Haha, I haven’t worked out in 30 years!! I eat well during the week but weekends I like to relax a little and enjoy whatever food I like! I don’t know, I want to FEEL better! I want to wake up and not have back pain, not get out of breath walking up a set of stairs, it would be nice to keep up with my kids on the bike this summer, there are some trails they want me to ride with them. And there is a reunion at a cottage this summer, so you know, I wouldn’t mind losing 10 pounds!”
Coach Me: “There are some great goals in there and definitely all of this is possible!”
Potential Client: “But how long is it going to take? Do you run any good 4 week bootcamps?”
Coach Me: “sigh.”
This is only a partially hypothetical conversation. The basis of all of it comes from the thousands of conversations just like this I have had over the last couple of decades. This article is not intended to answer the intricacies of how to achieve the goals but is dedicated to answering the question, ‘how long will it take?’
Everyone wants to know when it will all be over. Firstly, this is a horrifically bad way to start a health and fitness program. This simple implication of this common question is that people are looking for a finite program. They do this for X length of time and then they have achieved their goals and can go back to what they were doing before essentially setting themselves up for long term failure before it has even begun. Secondly, no one wants to hear my answer. Because I have discovered a truth.
I have discovered the rule.
How long will it take to truly change your life with exercises and healthy food in a way that is sustainable and will be more likely to become permanent?
One Month One Year Rule
You might surmise the answer from the tittle. One month per year.
For every year that you have no exercised and given little to no thought what food you put into your body it is going to be a full month of dedicated practice to achieve your goals.
Let’s define dedicated practice. I mean this to be daily movement and exercise, only healthy, unprocessed food, conscious practice to reduce stress, and no ‘breaks’ from this. So a month of dedicated practice is between 28 and 31 days. Not conscientious dedicated Monday to Thursday and then Friday to Sunday indulging in all modern society allows us to imbibe.
For every year you have not taken proper care of your body it is a month of dedicated practice to truly achieve long term health success.
Omg you are thinking. I have exercised in, like, 20 years!
This is why my compatriots will disavow this rule and why most of my ‘potential clients’ head down the road to the cheaper 6 week bootcamp designed to bust tummy fat and change their life!
Because, yes, you are thinking right. If you haven’t exercised or eat well for 20 years, according to my One Month One Year rule it is going to take 20 months of dedicated practice to truly effect lasting positive change.
20 MONTHS! But Coach Taylor, that’s almost 2 whole years!!!
Yep. It sure is.
You’ve been an asshole to your body for 20 years I don’t think just under two years is unrealistic penance for you to pay. There is so much damage that you have done to your body needing to be sorted out and repaired this is the kind of timeline we are talking about.
We are talking about 20 years of bad habits.
20 years of your joints and tissues being neglected.
20 years of too much stress.
20 years of ignorance.
That DOES NOT get fixed in 6 weeks. As much as the fitness industry loves to promise the quick fix, and the easy painless guaranteed system that will change your life in no time at all, it is all one big fat fucking lie.
Oh sure, in 6 weeks you’ll think you did something useful. Your scale might change, you think your stronger, you feel accomplished, but it is all a charade, a fakery. Nothing has changed.
You’ve lost water, not fat, despite what your new gyms super fancy bioimpedence scale is reporting. You haven’t gotten any stronger, muscle doesn’t develop strength in 6 weeks. Your sense of accomplishment is about to disappear in a celebratory indulgence of cake and a night…or two…celebrating your pathetic 6 weeks with your friends.
But nothing has changed.
You are still the you you were before the six weeks and you will be right back where you were before the six weeks.
Real. Sustainable. Change. Does not happen that quickly. You cannot wipe out 20 years of bad habits in 6 weeks. You cannot truly change your movement, strengthen your tissues, increase your mobility, improve your blood work, change YOUR LIFE in a few short weeks when you have neglected all of it for years and in many cases for decades.
Why do I write this?
I want to let you know the truth. I want you to change your mindset to reality. I want you to approach making positive changes to your life in a way that is far more likely to actually lead to you changing your life.
Short-term thinking is not reality. It is a band-aid solution to a mortal wound. Literally. It is putting a band-aid on a spurting femoral artery puncture. It might seem efficacious but it is not going to work.
Many people are going to go off the fucking deep end at me on this one.
Coach Taylor, my friend did a 6 week bootcamp and it changed their life!
Coach Taylor, you need to be more supportive of people, at least they are trying to make a change!
Coach Taylor, no one can be that dedicated for months, you have to live a little.
The truth is that real and permanent change takes dedication and practice. The longer you have been an asshole to your body the longer it is going to take to change that.
Yes, I get it, there is always an exception to the rule. Your friend of a friend who changed their life with their 6 week bootcamp is an exception. How many hundreds of people have done that bootcamp and NOT changed their life?
I am very supportive of people. I want them to make a change! It doesn’t mean I have to lie to them and give them false hope or unrealistic expectations. In fact I think that is the most disingenuous thing I could ever do. I think all the fucking idiots selling quick fix solutions and promising things are going to be easy are the truly unsupportive assholes.
Anyone can be truly dedicated for months. Live a little? I don’t want people to live a little. I want people to live a lot. For a long time! I want people to move well, sleep well, eat well, enjoy everything life has to offer. As a culture we consider sacrificing a party, alcohol, and trays of pastries as somehow denying our inalienable right to live! Like living is somehow positively correlated to the volume of deep fried overly processed pseudofood we can stuff into our insatiable over indulgent gullets washed down with a few cocktails.
You have a choice.
I don’t care which you take.
Take care of your body or treat it the way mass media says is the best way to live.
I hope you choose the former.
But I need you to recognize that is isn’t a quick fix. It isn’t easy. You will have to make actual changes that will require a conscious decision to be different than the masses. The masses are massive and if you act like them you will be them.
The One Month Per Year Rule is designed to give you hope, realistic hope, that you can achieve anything you want in life if you approach it with a realistic timeline and a reasonable set of expectations. It is the inevitable failure of the quick fix that derails most people from achieving their goals.
Set yourself up with the right expectations and dedicate true commitment to your health and fitness instead of hunting for the quick fix that money can seemingly buy.
I promise that on the other end you won’t regret it.
Jan 2: Factoring Humanity,Robert Sawyer -Science fiction novel
Feb 1: You can’t hurt me, David Goggins -Want to know what being truly tough and resilient is like? Want to find out what you are capable of?
Feb 12: Consider the Fork, Bee Wilson -An interesting look at the history of eating
Feb 13: The Grand Design, Stephan Hawking -Brilliant human, deep thinking book!
Feb 19: Walkaway, Cory Doctorow -Science fiction novel
Feb 24: The future of humanity, Michio Kaku -Very interesting read about where we might be going
Feb 27: Moral Tribes, Joshua Greene -Where does our morality come from?
March 3: Essentialism, Greg McKeown –II would recommend this for anyone who recognizes that our modern lives are far too complicated!
March 9: Play, Stuart Brown –This was hugely impactful on me and will be shaping a lot of my future coaching
March 18: The Laws of Human Nature, Robert Greene(not good) -I thought this book was garbage, overreaching, crap.
March 18: An Edible History of Humanity, Tom Standage -History from the perspective of food and resources
March 21: Binti, Nnedi Okorafor -Science fiction novel
March 26: The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollin -READ THIS BOOK.
March 29: Ferment For Good, Sharon Flynn –Great for anyone who wants to get into fermenting
March 29: The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben -Honestly…this book will blow your mind. What you think you know about trees and forests is not even close!!!!
April 3: Final Days, Gary Gibson -Science Fiction novel
April 4: Walden, or Life in the Woods, Henry David Thoreau – A literary classic and blew my mind. The things we think are the downfall of society today haven’t changed since Thoreaus time.
April 8: America: The Farewell Tour, Chris Hedged –Interesting read on the state of America
April 13: Just Babies: The Origins of Good And Evil, Paul Bloom -It was OK. Simplified and not a unique thought in the entire thing. But if you are unfamiliar with basic human psychology this is a decent place to start
April 15: Ghost Walker, R.D. Lawrence –Interesting read from a true naturalist
April 19: I Contain Multitudes, Ed Yong –Your body is not your own. This is an awesome look at how important your microbiome is, and WHAT your microbiome is!
April 28: Trust Me, I’m Lying, Ryan Holiday -Read this. You will never read the news or the internet the same way ever again!
May 1: Beyond Religion: Ethics for the Whole World, The Dali Lama -Interesting, somewhat meandering
May 6: Meat Eater, Steven Rinella -Smart guy and the most ethical hunter out there. More an autobiography than anything else
May 18: The Primacy of Movement, Maxine Sheets-Johnstone -This. Is. Dense. It is a textbook of movement and philosophy and required a lot of vocabulary expansion. It will stay with me for a long time.
May 19: Salt, Sugar, Fat: How The Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss -You have to read this book. You won’t look at processed food the same way again.
May 20: The Genius if Birds, Jennifer Ackerman -Birds are way more amazing than you think they are
May 22: Leisure: The Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper -Very interesting philosophy of what leisure actually is and what it has been bastardized into
May 25: What Makes Olga Run, Bruce Grierson -Competing at almost 100 years old, a very nice book on the science and psychology of why you should stay fit
May 27: Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport -Declutter your digital life, the how to guide.
May 30: Bullies, How The Lefts Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans, Ben Shapiro -Not a single legitimate idea or factually relevant idea in the entire book. But hey, important to understand all perspectives
June 6: Mans Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl -While based in the holocaust it is not about that. This classic is about how you can overcome anything.
June 7: Range, David Epstein -Specialization isn’t always the best idea
June 14: From Here to Eternity, Caitlyn Doughty -Or western ideas about death and the body after death are, a little weird. Caitlyn is really fantastic at looking at death and death rituals around the world in an entertaining and very informative way. -Def recommend!
June 22: The Way We Eat Now, Bee Larson -This is a MUST read!!!!!
June 22: The Outsider, Stephen King (Worst King book EVER) -I used to love Stephen King. I no longer do. Terrible.
June 29: The Woman Next Door, Sue Watson (Terrible terrible book) -I will no longer trust online reviews for ‘awesome psychological thrillers with a twist’. This book was worse than the Stephan King book.
August 1: The Third Plate, Dan Barber -brilliant man, amazing chef, changing the world. If you’re not really into cooking and the intricacies of our food systems you probably won’t like this. I loved it! And I got to meet Chef Barber at his restaurant !!!!!
August 12: Blue Remembered Earth, Alastair Reynolds -Science fiction novel
August 23: There there, Tommy Orange -A very interesting read recommended by a dear friend.
Sept 7: The Second Mountain, David Brooks -I don’t know why this is so highly recommended. It is pure puritanical, biased, bullshit.
September 14: The Collapsing Empire, John Scalzi -Science fiction novel
September 23: A Man Called Ove, Frederick Backman (Easily one of the best reads of my life) -One of the top of the year and top 5 books of my life
September 23: The Wisdom of Wolves, Jim And Jamie Dutcher -Very good book on Wolves and what they can teach us
September 25: Indistractable, Nir Ayal -Not bad. Again, nothing original or ground breaking.
Oct 9: The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday -I love this author. A great introduction to ancient philosophy.
Oct 10: A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles -An interesting novel
Oct 24: Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell -Great author and interesting book. Not an uplifting book but a necessary conversation to be had
Oct 25: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Change the World, William McRaven -Watch his famous commencement speech, skip this book
Oct 31: One, None, and A Hundred Thousand, Luigi Pirandello -An old novel but if you can dig this type of stuff it is mind blowing
November 3rd: Ten Drugs, Thomas Hagar -A VERY good read about the history of drugs in the world with no agenda
November 5th: The Peter Principle, Lawrence J. Peter -Work in an office or for a large organization? Read this.
November 7th: The Lives of Bees, Thomas Seeley -More of an actual academic thesis than an interesting read about bees. Don’t recommend.
November 9th: The Soil and Health, Sir Albert Howard -This book is very important. Maybe a little dry for most. This is the father of the organic movement.
November 20: Last and First Men, William Olaf Stapleton -Science fiction novel
November 20: The Sports Gene, David Epstein -Just how much do your genetics play a role in what you are capable of?
November 27: The Conquest of Happiness, Bertrain Russel -Early 20th century psychologist. Interesting…have to forgive some of the stereotypes!
November 27: Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday -Yes. Good. Yes.
December 8: Guitar Zero, Gary Marcus -Can anyone learn to play music? At any age? Yes.
Dec 10: This is Your Brain On Music, Daniel Levitin -If you want the detailed neuroscience of music and the brain then this is your read!
Dec 15: Underland, Robert Macfarlane -A very poetic author and a very interesting read
Dec 19: The Supernova Era, Cixin Liu -excellent science fiction novel from a Chinese authoer
Dec 20: American Buffalo, Stephen Rinella -the history of the Buffalo, very interesting. This is from a hunter and yes they do hunt a buffalo
Dec 21: The Death of Grass, John Christopher -Science fiction novel
Dec 29: You Look Like a Thing and I Love You, Janelle Shane -You probably don’t really know what all this AI is people are talking about. This is the truth in it.
Dec 31: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of The Dead, Olga Tokarczuk -Excellent novel
There we go. My list of reads for 2019.
It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. —S.I. Hayakawa
Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. —Groucho Marx
Yeah, it’s a tongue in cheek tittle because that is what is expected. That is what everyone wants to know, to focus on, how could you go a whole year without drinking?
Forget the fact that I have completely overhauled the entirety of my life, lol, just focus on the fact that I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol for an entire year.
If you have followed my posts and podcasts over the last year you are well aware I have been on a journey, a physical, sometimes spiritual, and always interesting journey of discovery.
The premise was simple: what would happen if I were to follow every single piece of health advice that I purport as efficacious for ultimate health? Would it make that big of a difference to my life? How much of a difference? Physical? Spiritual? Mental? Or would it make no difference at all? Is the constant bombardment of ‘you should be doing this for your ultimate health’ messaging merely rhetoric?
How do I succinctly summarize an entire year, a true odyssey into human health, into a piece of writing that anyone will actually read? The answer is: I cannot.
This is going to be long. I wasn’t going to write it as I don’t think the people who truly need to hear what I have to say are actually going to listen, to absorb, to contemplate, to consider the truth’s about their health via my journey.
So this won’t be succinct. Reading it is going to be an odyssey for some! If you are serious about changing your life, about living as long as possible with good health, movement, enjoyment, pleasure, happiness, and everything else that makes for a human life well lived, then this is what you need to read. This is the message you need to hear. These are the actions you need to contemplate. Contained below is a roadmap to everything you need to do to live. Because living should be beautiful, exciting, enjoyable.
2019 marked my age at 39 and early in 2020 I will enter my 40’s, while this is still not quite at the geriatric threshold it is most definitely a significant milestone in our lives, with the intent of improving my health as I move into the next decade.
Seven years ago my mom died suddenly in her sleep and receiving the phone call the next morning with the news fundamentally changed life, changed me, altered me. I would love to say it was unexpected but I had warned my family for years that obesity and too much alcohol was putting an end stamp on her life. I hate being right sometimes. At 56 years old she was gone.
After that my passion for many things eroded away especially health and fitness. Here I was, a professional coach who couldn’t even save his own mother. Couldn’t even affect her health enough to save her life. I watched, I warned, I predicted her death with more accuracy than I wish I could. I knew. I tried. I did what I could. It wasn’t enough.
The years that followed I worked out sporadically. I ate too much. Not health food either. Pre-bough fish sticks and fries are not health food, no, even though it’s seafood it isn’t healthy. We fell into drinking wine with nightly meals, or a beer or two. I discovered tequila is actually a hard liquor that I enjoyed sipping. I smoked weed most nights of the week then enjoyed the munchies with cinnamon buns, chocolate, pop, bags of chips, maybe some Oreos, or a tub of ice cream. Five nights a week by 2018. I stopped really caring, lost interest in fitness in general and most other hobbies I enjoyed.
One day I called my wife in an emergency and had her leave work to take me to the ER. I thought I was having a heart attack. Literally. Turns out it was an anxiety attack. Nothing brought it on but chronic use of marijuana can do this to, especially couple with all the other unhealthy habits, which also came with high blood pressure, foggy cognition, lack of ability to focus, lethargy, paranoia, and a few other health effects I won’t discuss here.
I couldn’t wear size 40 pants any longer, I had maybe 4 shirts I could still fit into, didn’t really need jackets in the Canadian winter as I had my own insulation, and felt…heavy. And I snored. Loud. Some nights my wife would make me sleep in the basement so she could at least get some sleep because even with her need to wear earplugs nightly apparently the vibration reverberated through the mattress.
That’s where I was.
In October/November of 2018, while travelling through Namibia, I suddenly had a thought: what would happen if for one year I took every single bit of advice I dished out as a health coach? Would it make that big of a difference? How big?
I debated over it for weeks. Could I do it? Did I really want to do it? What all would it entail. I mulled, contemplated, searched, wrote, and eventually decided to go ahead with it.
Almost everyone I shared it with thought I was crazy. Always for the same reasons. I was taking all the fun things out of life, all of the things that made life worth living, and for a whole year, why would anyone do this? How could anyone do this?
The more I received this feedback the more steadfast became my course. It reinforced for me just how insidiously cultural norms had been established that were truly destroying our health. Abstention from many things seems an impossibility to most people and I have discussed many times over the past year just how scary this is. There is a lot of money in keeping us sick and we can’t break free. No, there isn’t a cure for cancer being held captive my Merck, but there is a very real knowledge that the food we are sold is terrible for us and there is a complete lack of preventative health care, which could save millions of lives. This is real.
I will not digress into a tirade on the sociocultural structures and influences currently destroying our bodies.
Onward. I was in. I made the decision. The Odyssey would happen. The 2019 Health Odyssey. My family will tell you I am like a freight train. When I have made up my mind, when I have committed to a path, I will not be dissuaded. Those close to me may call it stubborn and extremely annoying but I think it is one of my superpowers. They can disagree all they want, I will not be dissuaded on this topic.
One year. All the advice I doll out I would enact. January 1st it would begin.
What all did this journey entail?
This is where I really, REALLY, want you to pay attention for a moment because this is THE SINGULAR most frustrating thing I have had to deal with over the past year and even now, December 31st, it hasn’t changed.
MOST of the advice I give out, that majority of my coaching, is focused on adding healthy things, be it exercise, food, or psychological aspects of health. Noone really notices that.
What everyone does pay heed to are the restrictions. The things that must be CUT out of life. This invariably leads to fear, frustration, avoidance, panic, and instant acquittal of the possibility of an attempt at embarking on similar life changes for health.
99% of the questions I fielded were always about the restrictions. This would always be followed by an explanation of why they could not do the same thing. To be fair a good portion of people are just stubborn fucks and were honest, they just aren’t WILLING to make any kind of sacrifice for their health. They want to stuff their pudgy cheeks with chocolate while incessantly bitching that they just have such a hard time losing weight. What can I even say to that?
Not once. Let me repeat: NOT ONCE during this entire year was I ever engaged in a discussion about the health aspects that were ADDED into my life during the Odyssey even though they outnumbered the restrictions tenfold. No one gave a fuck. No one could get past the restrictions.
This is the reason why so much of my attitude has changed. Sorry Karen, but those who aren’t willing to commit to change I actually no longer care about. This journey has shown me a hard truth: there is nothing I can do to make the health of our population better. I can have an influence over a select few who are willing to put in some effort and make some sacrifices but my dreams of truly changing our culture at large are gone.
The true power of this Odyssey was adding healthy activities and foods into my life, which is why there were far more additions than restrictions for this journey. I don’t know how to get this message actually absorbed through the thick heads of…everyone…but if I ever figure that out maybe I can change the world!
Fine, fine, fine! The details already!
As I am inclined to do, the band-aid needs to get ripped off quickly. What did I give up for an entire year.
Marijuana (and recreational drugs, of which there are none I partake in)
That’s it! Only three things were excluded!! Alcohol and drugs are easily understood. What about processed food?
For me that meant no potato chips, chocolate, pop, cookies, ice cream, cinnamon buns, and other salty snacks. Now let’s be a little bit clear. Actually this just meant no pre-made processed versions of these foods (also including cakes, cupcakes, pastries, breads etc, things I just really don’t care much about anyway), they could still be had if I wanted them. The catch? I would have had to make them from scratch with real ingredients. Which at times I did, however, as the journey progressed I desired these things less and less so by month four I didn’t bother with any of it.
Now what did I ADD to my life?
Minimum 15 minutes a day of physical activity
Use of all the following equipment: hackey sack, mace, indian clubs, evolution flows, breath work
Weekly inversion training
Daily Cold exposure
Prepare all of my food from scratch (nothing processed)
Intermittent fasting (I eat dinner and a small meal a couple hours later)
Fermented Foods Daily
Seafood 3x a week
All proteins ethically and organically raised from local farmers
One new food or recipe weekly
Read at least 20 books
Learn one new advanced skill
That’s it! That’s the entire Odyssey. Do all of the above for one year.
Let’s break it down point by point.
No Alcohol for a Year
I would have a glass, or two, of wine nightly with meals the last couple of years. Then started learning to sip tequila because EVERYONE on TV and in every movie is always sipping ‘a drink’. Maybe a beer or two once I realized I liked Guiness and what’s taco night without a Corona?
I do not miss it. Any of it. At all. In anyway. Seriously.
In fact, I don’t intend on ever drinking alcohol again. Why? My life today is far better than it ever has been, alcohol free. I have eaten at one of the best restaurants in the world and had an incredible experience, alcohol free.
I enjoy other beverages more than alcohol, such as kombucha, and these beverages actually provide a health benefit. If I am going to ingest calories why would I not ingest calories that actually provide some health benefit that I enjoy more?
The longer I go without alcohol the more I realize how much I don’t want to partake. The scarier it becomes to me. Our societal addiction to ingesting a poison it actually horrifically frightening. The more removed I am from social alcohol culture the more turned off I have become from ever wanting to drink booze ever again. This is a sentiment that I have discovered is shared by many others who have made the decision to abstain.
The calories I have not ingested, the better sleep I have had, the days I haven’t lost to feeling ill from purposefully ingesting a poison all lead me to have no desire to drink alcohol.
Note that I have no desire and that it is not something I am forcing onto myself. I don’t WANT to. That is something in the Odyssey that is truly powerful; it actually changes you.
You keep seeing me use the word poison. Remember that. Because it is true. Alcohol is a poison. It has no health benefit. Sorry not sorry. I am just the deliverer of the truth.
No Marijuana or Recreational Drugs
I’ve never partaken in any recreational drugs other than weed so that wasn’t too hard. But getting high has been a part of my life for a very long time and the last few years I probably smoked up 5 nights a week. I wouldn’t say it was an addiction as I had no trouble or issue abstaining if I was travelling or had other events coming up that required not being weed stupid. I just simply LOVE being high. It is a mind expanding and totally awesome state of being.
At first it was no issue because I am a stubborn old man and once I make a decision to do something I am doing it. Period. So embarking on this journey I literally just stopped (after getting really really high last New Year’s Eve…). About a month in I had some cravings, not so much for the weed, but for the experience of being high.
The truth is weed makes you stupid and lazy. Anyone who argues that simply doesn’t understand how much sharper they could be and how much more productive they could be if they weren’t chronically high. That is what I really noticed after about six weeks.
My mind became sharper. I started to get more done. My focus and attention started to come back. It was like a fog slowly dissolved out of my brain and I could think clearly again. Weed is funny like that. It makes you think you are on these amazing mind journeys filled with ideas and granted some stellar insights have come to me while high as a kite. But a year later I can tell you this: I have just as many stellar insights now as I did then and they are actually a lot sharper, a lot more refined, a lot more…intelligent…than anything I ever thought stoned to oblivion.
Now instead of being high and seeing insights on TV shows or sitting and watching the world go by, I have insights reading books. Not like harlequin romance books, but real literature from throughout history and around the world. My knowledge base and skill set have grown substantially this year and it is an even better feeling than being high as fuck.
Will I ever smoke weed again? I do not know how to answer this. I won’t say no. I mean if you said to me that I had to make a choice right now that would dictate this for the rest of my life I would say no, I would never get high again. Not because I somehow think I will be healthier for it but because I…just don’t want to.
I don’t want to lose even a single precious day feeling sluggish and groggy. I don’t want to miss enjoying a sunrise or not feel like enjoying a book or skip cooking a meal because I was feeling lazy.
The verdict is that maybe I will, maybe I won’t but the desire to is simply gone. The interest has waned. Other things have become more enjoyable.
And there is a nagging little voice inside me that is scared of reverting to old habits. I don’t want to ever be again the person I was just a year ago.
No Processed Food
This by far is the most challenging. While many will believe that it is the abstention from alcohol that is the most difficult aspect of a year long journey like this I can tell you it is not. Eliminating processed foods from our diet in the western world is very hard and requires forethought mixed with a complete reallocation of your time.
It takes time to prepare all of your own food. From scratch. Sourcing ingredients, preparing them, cooking them, storing them, and learning how to enjoy them without the additives and sauces and pre-made spice packets takes time and effort. Something so many of us have completely lost is the basic ability to cook. This is then compounded by the loss of desire to cook and the complete fallacy that our society builds into us that we don’t have the time to cook.
Then we are forced to talk about flavour. Our pallets have been hijacked by chemists. What we think food tastes like is not what food actually tastes like, nay, what we think food tastes like is an enhanced version, distilled, accented, and concentrated to elicit extreme reactions from our physiology. When we then eat non-processed foods they tend to taste bland, to be less stimulating, to lack a visceral flavour. Add to this the lost art of cooking and it is not surprising that people opt for processed foods and tend to dislike like unprocessed foods.
What I noticed over the last year is that this can be fixed! Taking out processed foods at first can be challenging and you will think that you won’t enjoy it. But after a couple of months something happens, it is like your physiology resets itself, your taste buds wake up. Food suddenly tastes different.
I literally cannot explain to you the intense flavour of greek yogurt covered in berries with a drizzle of honey over it. You are probably thinking that is so boring, so mundane, so not as good as a piece of cake or a great piece of chocolate. All I can tell you is that you are so incredibly wrong. But the only way you’ll ever understand is to take out processed food.
This has been life changing.
I feel SO much better. More energetic, more interested in food, and it is all so much more satisfying. The thought of processed food now really turns me off. Fast food, 99% of restaurants, chips, chocolate, cookies, pastries, and so much of what we eat, just…no longer appeals to me. The idea of putting these things into my body is almost repulsive.
I have always considered myself a connoisseur of potato chips. Like, I actually love them. Thinking about them now actually increase my saliva flow (this is actually a brilliant example of how food has been chemically engineered to be addictive). But on January 1st, 2020 I won’t be rushing out to grab a bag of chips. Not because I am forcing myself to avoid them but because I don’t want to. There is no desire for them. Again, the idea of putting that into my body is slightly repulsive to me.
The question keeps popping up in my mind: why? Why do I want to put that into my body. I feel fantastic, I love the food I eat, I know this shit is not food, why? Why do I want to put it in my body? Are those few moments of chemically engineered pleasure really worth it? Will they truly improve my life? My health?
The answer is simple: no.
So then why? Why consume it?
After a year I can tell you this: your desires change, your mindset changes. Everything is different.
I will spend less time here than I would like because frankly I know there is less interest. If you have any questions, send them my way!
15 Minutes a Day Min of Physical Activity
Every single day. No matter what. In this category I will include all the workouts and the training tools listed above as well. I did full workouts 3-4 days a week but daily added activity. Taking the dog out daily was always a guarantor of this as rain or shine, the German Shepherd needs time outside!
I added a few things to this Odyssey as time went on and one was the Turkish getup and pushup challenge. Everyday TGU’s and pushups. TGU’s one per side per day for the month that I was in (1/side/day in January, 2/side/day in February…12/side/day in December) and then double the number of the month daily in pushups. This wasn’t too bas the first part of the year but let me say that as I write this on New Year’s Eve I am pretty sick of doing TGU’s. More than 4800 for the year.
Does it ever feel awesome to have accomplished this, however! And it has helped restore my shoulders and back to optimal functioning! Bonus!
I am already planning the challenges for 2020 because I couldn’t imagine NOT having something like this to do. It is often a huge pain in the ass and there have been some late night Turkish getup sessions! But I didn’t miss a single day. Fuck yeah.
Weekly Inversion Training
I do love being upside down! And it is great training for your vestibular system and a few other great benefits. I developed some issues in my ankle from the foot holders on the inversion table so the second half of the year I more relied on headstands to be inverted and sometimes the table.
Obstacles always present themselves and forcing yourself into a commitment like the Odyssey is a brilliant way to teach yourself that all obstacles can be overcome with patience and diligence.
Daily Cold Exposure
This is an important one. Yes, I think adapting to the cold is beneficial and there is mounting evidence for this, however, that is by no means the true power of adding this.
Being cold builds fortitude. It is uncomfortable, it hurts, it can just plain suck. And that is the true power it has. To willing put yourself in an uncomfortable position and fucking handle it. You always come out the other side stronger and invigorated.
I live in Canada so the winter makes it easy. There is nothing so character building as standing naked outside in the snow in -20C and deep breathing to control your body. Trust me, I know!
The rest of the year cold showers work! Come on, it’s only one minute of your life. Turn off the hot water and go full cold. It sucks. It really does. But don’t think about it. Just breathe.
It has been awesome and I will continue to keep myself strong with purposeful cold training.
Prepare all Foods From Scratch
See above section on no processed food!
Not only is it healthier but it is so delicious. And learning to cook is one of the most rewarding and satisfying things I have ever done. I will continue on this journey as I have developed a strong passion for amateur chefing. And what a better way to take care of my health and my families health than to personally prepare all of the food we eat?
Everyone should be adding fasting to their lives. I wrote an extensive blog on the topic and the New England Journal of Medicine recently published an awesome review article of all the reasons why you should definitely be adding fasting to your life.
I east dinner. Usually around 630pm. Then around 9or 10pm I have something to eat. That is how I get all of my calories. Yes, I do not eat all day. No, I am never hungry. No, I do not have a recently developed eating disorder. No, I am not deprived. No, I would not ever change this.
I feel fantastic. Part of the journey was to have full days of eating during the year 20 times. I don’t like those days as much. I don’t feel as good, as sharp, as energetic. The days I fast all day I feel my absolute best.
I workout in the morning. Yep, no pre-workout meal, no post-workout shake. Horror of all horrors!!!! Lol. Amazing.
There is no fixation on food. I don’t have to prepare three meals a day plus snack. That is the eating pattern that leads to a fixation on food!!!! And when you get all your calories in a limited time window there is no room for crap food, for unhealthy snacks, for mindlessly filling time with stuffing shit in your mouth out of habit.
You eat well. You have to get adequate calories in limited space. Check my personal Instagram (taylorsimon_renaissanceman) if you want to see the terrible gross food I have been forced to consume the last year…
Fasting the one of the BEST things you can do for your health and everyone should incorporate it. I love how I eat now and would NEVER change that.
Fermented Foods Daily
Our microbiome is just beginning to be explored and is still very poorly understood. What we do know is that it is vital to our health in so many more ways than we ever imagined. It is imperative to our health that we nurture and support the thriving communities of bacteria that live in un and on us.
Fermented foods have been a staple in the human diet for all of human history and are very important in maintaining the health of our microbial communities. The western world has almost completely eliminated them from our diets and it is to the detriment of our health.
This year I have made my own sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, jun, fermented veggies and fruits, sourdough, water kefir, and yogurt. I am just getting started. Once you get into the wonderful flavours of all things fermented it just keeps sucking you in further. I love them.
I didn’t always. It has taken time but they really do become a staple of your diet. I will be diving even further into my fermenting journey!
One New Food or Recipe Weekly
My mother would have been SHOCKED by this. I have always been a very fussy eater. She literally wouldn’t know who I am anymore!
I eat mushrooms, fermented foods, mussels, octopus, cow tongue, cow heart, chicken hearts, any vegetable, and even more. Well, not tomatoes, I don’t know why, I just can’t.
This Odyssey has pushed me out of my comfort zone by having to experiment with foods and recipes. The modern western grocery store is filled with almost every food on earth and yet we eat a very narrow list of items. I eat so many more healthy foods now that I am pretty sure my body doesn’t even recognize who the hell I am anymore.
Seafood 3x Weekly
Done and done. I have eaten more fish and shellfish in the last year then in my entire life combined before that. It is good for us and while I love red meat I have always consumed too much of it!
Ethically Sourced Meat Only
This year I have purchased a ¼ cow and a half lamb from a local farm in addition to taking immaculate care as to where my meat comes from. This has been helped by my increased vegetable intake and increased seafood intake to be sure! I eat a lot less meat than I ever have.
This also led me to enact other changes like decreasing my use of plastics and purchasing compost bins. I can’t change the world myself but I will continue to strive to treat the world around me better.
And to only ever eat animals who have been treated well. This will continue for the rest of my life.
I actually journaled daily for the first three quarters of the year and then gradually fell down to every few days and then to weekly. Why? It became the same thing over and over again as every aspect of the Odyssey became habitual.
Keeping a journal is something that has been proven to make a positive impact on peoples lives and I am unsure how I will proceed with this in the future. My blogging and podcasts etc. act as a blog for me as well as the rest of my posting for work and for personal stuff (have you seen Heisenberg_gsd on Instagram yet??).
I am going to start focusing on more writing this upcoming year so most likely will not keep a journal as such but will be constantly getting my thoughts out in other ways!
Done and done. Will continue through 2020.
Read at Least 20 Books
I read 68 by last count. Unofficially I missed my goal of 100 books. I got into a couple very dense and long books which took more time than I had allotted for them and I moved to a new home in July, which ate up an exorbitant amount of free time.
This didn’t include all the cookbooks, hunting and fishing manuals, podcasts, blogs, articles, and other forms of reading I did over the year.
Felt amazing to get back to being a voracious reader as the last many years I had not read much. As this year went on I began to devour literature at an increasing pace. In the last month I organically stopped watching most TV at night and replaced it with even more reading. A truly great trade off and something I just wanted to do versus forced myself.
The discovery of audiobooks also was a gift. I listen at 2x speed so can really get through books that are lese dense faster than I could physically read them.
I would like to read 100 books a year, however, I will see how 2020 goes. I intend to do a lot more writing and may have to do a tradeoff.
Meditation is good for you. That is what all the date says. I don’t care about it that much and don’t particularly enjoy it. I have done it and feel like it has more of an impact now than it did at the beginning, however my mind feels no more settled than it ever has during meditation. It wanders and flows and gaining any type of focus is extremely challenging for me!
I may or may not continue to develop this skill going forward. I recognize that it has only been a year of practicing something that can take a lifetime which leads me to believe I should continue to make the effort.
The jury is out still!
Learn One New Advanced Skill
I set out with one in mind but ended up doing a LOT more than I ever could have anticipated.
The violin was my skill of choice for the Odyssey. I started before I googled ‘what is the hardest instrument to learn to play’, finding that every single list was topped by this little beauty. I have been enjoying it immensely and will continue to take lessons and develop my skill. One day even enough to let people hear me play! Maybe…it is pretty fucking hard to learn.
As I learned the violin and continued guitar lessons and developed my cooking skills through courses, something unexpected happened.
I wanted to do more. I wanted to learn more. I became more efficient. My capacity to learn grew exponentially. My interests expanded. The things I needed to learn swelled.
I got my gun license, completed my hunting certification, bought a boat and fishing gear, built gardens and devoured literature about that, dramatically expanded my knowledge of human nutrition, changing my diet even more.
I stopped watching or reading the news filling my time instead with actual learning.
The more I took on the more I realized I could take on. It was an exhilarating rush that is still growing.
Who knows what I will be able to accomplish in the next year, in the next decade, in my life!
This is what everyone wants to know: did you lose weight?
I have no idea. I haven’t weighed myself in about 8 years and I never plan to again. What about before and after photos? Measurements? Body fat? I will say that the first few months I was doing before and after photos and somewhere around July I stopped. Realizing that this was just feeding into the same old tired mantra of the fitness industry I simply quit doing them. I do not regret it.
Yes, my clothes all started falling off of me. I have a new wardrobe. Does that make this all seem more interesting? If it does, please don’t bother with the undertaking. You have missed the point entirely.
My goal was to enter my 40’s in the healthiest state of my life. And I believe I have accomplished that.
I have no cravings any longer. Chips, chocolate, fast food, alcohol, marijuana, cookies, pastries…nothing. It is not that I think they are bad for me so I am going to try to keep them out of my life, I actually do not have any interest in any of those things any longer. I just don’t want them. When I really dial into it the thought occurs to me: why would I ingest that stuff? Does the brief hit of dopamine warrant the negative health effects? It just doesn’t.
I get so much happiness and joy from so many places now. There is so much satisfaction I derive from food, conversations, reading, gardening, sipping my tea, cooking, and a host of other activities. I don’t feel deprived or hard done by. I feel good.
No more sucking back bottles of tums, feeling like I am walking around in a daze, high blood pressure, poor bowel movements, lethargy, anxiety, mood swings. I feel awesome. Why would I do anything that would take away from feeling like this! Even for a day.
I learned more and experienced more in the last year than I have in the last many years. Learning the violin, the guitar, cooking skills, gardening, fishing, boat driving, photography, writing, and so, so much more.
Answering this is very difficult. I am not normal in this respect. When I commit to something I am unwavering. I think it comes from my grandfather who, smoking over a pack a day since he was nine years old, quit cold turkey at age 72. I believe I get my fortitude from him.
As I started feeling better and better, it simply became the way life is. It was never a sacrifice, I never found it hard. Because I had made the decision to do it. To commit. For me there was no alternative.
Making it easier for me is definitely my personality. I have never much cared what other thought of me and I have never been one to conform to societal norms or what was ‘expected’ of me. Not drinking at a party when everyone else does is easy for me. Always has been.
The best thing I can say here is that the hardest part for most people would be the societal pressure. It is amazing how unsupportive those around you can be. The sidelong looks when you don’t drink, the constant questions about why are you doing this vs. support for why you are doing this. It is remarkable how people want you to fail, to do all of the things that are really bad for us. They might not even realize they are doing it themselves but nonetheless they are.
Add to that the constant dialogue of people telling you how they could, or would, never do this. They would never give up their nightly glass of wine or chocolate, or cake on their birthday, or holiday baking. They would just NEVER do that. Why would you do that? This constant barrage of statements would be hard for most people I think. Constantly questioning why you are making these choice, wondering if you are missing out on something, losing friends and invitations to things.
You might find that hard.
In our modern world making the decisions that are truly best for our health requires an immense amount of fortitude. Maybe you could build it if you gave this journey a chance. I don’t know. I am not you.
What would I do? I would cut everyone out of my life that didn’t support and encourage me. Period.
Did It Change Me
How could it not? What would the purpose of all of this be if not to create some kind of change in my life?
This is where most people lose it. People start things with the intent of finishing them. This defeats the entire purpose and I believe sets you up for failure before you’ve even begun.
A year is the shortest amount of time to make a commitment that will lead to actual changes to your life.
Did this change me? Yes. It did. Although I have contemplated another perspective as well.
Did this year long Odyssey change me or did it allow the real me to emerge? Was I masking my potential though poor lifestyle habits, processed food, drugs, and mindless activity?
My belief is that of the latter. I think I have always been who I am now and the last many years have been a mask sublimating everything I had the potential to be.
Esotheric? Maybe. But it is the truth.
Yeah, this has been life altering. My life is better today than it was one year ago. Substantially.
I am happier, fitter, healthier, wiser, and more relaxed than I have ever been. I am more disciplined, more accomplished, more…better.
Where to Now?
It is an obvious question I have received numerous times in the last couple of weeks: what now? Will you keep doing this?
I get it. You are used to people making healthy lifestyle choices until they ‘reach their goal’ and then ‘stopping.’ That is the norm.
That is some fucked up shit.
Where to now? Onward and upward my friends.
I crave it. I want more of it. I want to see how far I can take this. What can I accomplish? What can I learn? What can I do? What skills can I acquire?
How good is it possible to feel?
If I feel this good right now, is there another level? Could I feel even better? Could I accomplish more? I didn’t think I could get to this place, I didn’t think I could be the person I am now. What else is out there that I haven’t discovered yet? I need to find out. I need to explore, practice, train, learn, push, experiment, discover.
There is a lot of perceived mystery in the world of human health and fitness. Every person you talk to will have different opinions on how to best manage our health. Every doctor will recommend something to improve your health and more often than not these messages contradict each other.
What would happen if we took all of the best health advice from the best sources and abided by that advice habitually for one year?
Would we feel THAT much better? What would we feel like? Would it make any difference in our lives? How hard would it be? Would it ruin our social lives? Would we be able to have any fun?
Would it be WORTH it?
Welcome to the 2019 Health Odyssey.
After 17 years in the health and fitness industry, 15 of which as a full time profession, I have decided to embark on a health quest, the purpose of which is to answer these very questions. I want to know if it would really and truly make a difference in our lives to adhere to the best health recommendations out there and to refrain from the cultural practices relating to modern Western living that we know are detrimental to us.
As I have expanded my knowledge and understanding within the world of human health I have come to understand that there are components of what makes us human currently void from many affluent cultures. We all know better quality nutrition and increasing overall physical exercise is good for us but I believe there is a huge component missing from our efforts to be healthier. It all relates to sacrifice and pain.
The real change to the lives of those living within affluence (we refer to this as first world living) is the increase in comfort. We have central heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, our groceries can be delivered to us, our food pre-made and stored in our refrigerators, our cars can almost drive themselves if the uber cannot pick us up, our dogs get walked for us, and our yards are cared for by others. I could continue this list for a very long time. The point is that we have the technology and resources now to live in a zone of comfort that precludes us from any form of discomfort and hardship.
As a result we are weaker and sicker than ever. There shouldn’t be more than 60 pharmacies in my small city. That’s right. More than 60 pharmacies for a population of just over 100,000 people. How many people rely on medications? It’s appalling and truly frightening. We are seeing huge increases in depression, suicide, and other mental health related disorders that I fully believe are mostly resultant from affluent living.
My 2019 Health Odyssey is an exploration into a deeper understanding of the questions I posed earlier and the new ideas of how to truly maximize our health based on the last few years of my personal learning and research.
And I invite anyone along for the ride.
Most of you won’t do it. You don’t have the mental fortitude and you aren’t willing to truly sacrifice. You aren’t willing to be uncomfortable.
And I would be confident in saying that 99% of the things in your life that make you unhappy or you constantly feel the need to change actually stem from the fact that you are not willing to make sacrifices and to give up some of your comfort.
Being uncomfortable and experiencing pain are integral aspects of the human condition and I firmly believe the lack of these things are detrimental to us all. In the summer you are going to be hot, in the winter a little cold. It isn’t always comfortable but your body has integrated systems to handle these types of environmental fluctuations and you need to use them.
Pain. Some things hurt. No, I don’t want you grabbing a knife and stabbing yourself. But pain is just a part of the uncomfortable scale. I have been learning to play the guitar for a few months now and guess what? It hurts. My fingers hurt a lot. Well, they don’t anymore because I have built up callouses but getting to that point was painful. In our culture the first inclination is to create a product that will prevent this form happening. “You can play the guitar without your fingers ever getting sore!” We spout that mantra like it’s a good thing!
We NEED to experience these things. It is what builds fortitude. It is where our sense of accomplishment comes from. It is, at its heart, the essence of what makes us human. And we continually create ways to make thing easier and remove any sort of discomfort.
It scares me.
This odyssey is a year-long journey and it will not be easy.
Rites of passage have been a significant aspect of human culture since the beginning of human culture yet has been removed from most of modern affluent society. Our fixation on comfort and the explosion of technology now providing that comfort has all but eliminated the age-old journey of overcoming hardship and emerging as a different person. I believe this to be one of the most overlooked aspects of modern affluent society.
A year is a long short time.
It seems daunting at first but on a daily basis I have conversations with people about how fast time goes and inevitably they say something like, ‘where do the years go?’ So while a year can feel like an eternity in the moment it will feel like a ripple in the pond over the totality of your life.
Yet the physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits gained from accomplishing something truly extraordinary will have an effect on the rest of your life, forever.
Many aspects of this odyssey are going to instantly prevent most people from participating in the undertaking. And this speaks to my point that we are weak and unwilling to get past hardship in our lives.
I will save most of you from reading any further. There will be no alcohol for the full year.
‘Oh, I am not doing that!’ 95% of the people who read this far just decided they would never do this. They have made a list of reasons why they need to have alcohol, how they can’t live without it, or have convinced themselves that there are health benefits to consuming alcohol.
The fact that most people won’t take alcohol out of their lives scares me. Like our entire culture is addicted to a poison that literally kills us and everyone is OK with it. That’s fucked up. And NOONE SEEMS TO CARE.
The odyssey will involve sacrifice, hard work, commitment, and it will be a challenge. Rites of passage aren’t easy. That is the whole point of them. It has to hurt, to be hard, to be a struggle. It has to push you past your comfort – FAR past it.
It is through overcoming these obstacles that we become better, that we grow, that we learn, that we become more than we currently are.
There is no pill, no program, no piece of technology, no amount of money, or anything else that can ever replace or replicate this process. You must go through it and you must survive it to truly benefit your health and your life.
This is the next step in my journey and I am happy to share the experience with anyone. I am also happy to act as a guide to others who wish to explore what they are truly capable of.
Let’s get to some details.
Time to pull off the band-aid. I will do it quickly for you.
What will be excluded for the full year?
• Recreational drugs
• Processed and mass manufactured food
o Ex.: chips, pop, gum, crackers, most restaurants, chocolate, flavoured teas, pastries, bakeries, pretty much all of Costco, cereal, pre-prepared meats, veggies, etc. (this list is not exhaustive)
• Processed and manufactured chemicals
o Scented candles, air fresheners, most cleaning products, tap water, (this list is not exhaustive)
o While hard to define and harder still to remove, a large focus of this odyssey will be about minimizing stress in life. Most people have no concept of the deleterious effects high stress has on the human body. Toxic relationships, bad jobs, shift-work, focusing on negative news are just a few examples.
o Obviously many things cannot simply be removed so most of this aspect of the odyssey will rely on the lifestyle inclusions that will be listed later
That’s it!!! Lol. The examples I have listed are simply to give people an idea of what will be excluded. Chemicals and manufactured foods are so integrated into our lives that it is impossible to think of them all and list them right here. Removing these things will be an ongoing process that will have to evolve as the odyssey progresses. It is the prevalence of these things into our lives that makes them so insidious. Anyone who embarks on this journey with me will be able to discuss with me at anytime to explore if they should be avoiding a specific product or not.
I don’t want you to think of this as an odyssey in what you can cut out of your life. The VAST majority of this odyssey is about ADDING things to our lives that will improve them. I think we spend far too much time as a culture stressed over all the things we shouldn’t be doing while at the same time indulging in everything. It is a hypocrisy that very few people even notice.
As soon as I recommend adding a few things into life I am met with the same response – every. Single. Time. ← That. Time Always out of people’s mouths is, ‘I just don’t have the time.’
Funny. You know what the kardashians are doing, and the latest Trump tweet, plus are current on a couple of TV shows. And were drinking a couple of nights last week….
We all have time. It is where we choose to spend it. As a culture we also have a misguided belief that anything positive for our health is going to take an hour a day everyday. That is not necessary. I will list some options later on.
For now, I simply want to make sure you understand the true point of this odyssey is to INCLUDE more healthy things into your life for the next year. Some daily, some weekly, some sporadically.
While the exclusions may seem daunting to most, I believe that over the course of the year it will be the INCLUSIONS list that provides the most challenging.
It is important to recognize that the VAST majority of this odyssey is about adding positive things to your life vs. restricting things from your life. Our culture does not value health. This may seem like a shock to some, however, it is the truth. Our culture values medicine, treatments, and fixing things that have gone wrong. We do not value prevention nor activities dedicated to maintenance of health. That is what we will be adding to daily life.
Because the truth of the matter is actually simple. You’ve heard your grandparents say it your entire life: ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ This has been lost. And for almost two decades I have given my entire life
This is the list of things that will be ADDED to life for the year.
This will be broken down into three categories; Fitness, Nutrition, and Lifestyle. I will also provide some basic details when applicable.
This is a base list of things you must include. It does not mean you cannot expand upon this! Skiing, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, OCR races, whatever – add fitness to life. Fitness needs to be based on human movement and full body conditioning. We can explore as the year progresses.
However, the following is required:
• 15 min of exercise and movement daily
o Yes, even if you’re sick or on vacation
o You can also exercise far more than this!
• Hacky sack,
• Indian Clubs
• Animal flows
• Breathing work (harmonica)
• Inversion work (1x per week min)
• Cold exposure
o Minimum of 1min daily
o Winter is easy, go outside (that’s where I train). Cold showers are the easiest way to accomplish this
• All food must be purchased whole, prepared and cooked from scratch. No pre-bought anything, no packaged foods, no prepared meals. YOU must make your own food.
o Those with children, yes, this could be a challenge. See it as an opportunity to do a new activity with them – this means better food and great learning!!
o Restaurants: there won’t be many you can go to! Must be able to verify that they cook all of their food from scratch! Impossible to know how they source all of their ingredients however most places of this calibre do focus on great ingredients!
• Intermittent fasting
o I will recommend warrior style ideally. Eating within a 4 hour window 95% of the time. This means that about 20 days throughout the year you will eat throughout a 24 hour period. Times of feasting are important!
o Any other fasting protocol is fine as long as it includes a minimum of a 16 hours fasting period at least 5 days a week.
• Fermented foods daily
o Our western culture is so poorly exposed to fermented foods it is scary! And I believe this is a huge health issue.
o Kombucha, sourdough, kimchi, cheeses, and sauerkraut are the most well known. But there are tens of thousands ferments around the world. I will be exploring many of them and sharing.
o Minimum of 3x per week
o Fish, shellfish, shrimp, octopus, etc – it’s all fair game
o Grass fed, ethically raised, locally sourced or sourced from small farmers (for example my butcher brings in beef from the East Coast that is grass fed from a small farmer – that’s ok!)
• This is for beef, chicken, eggs, pork, lamb, or game
• ONE NEW FOOD PER WEEK
o For the entire year. Something you have never eaten before or something you think you don’t like.
This section are activities designed to stimulate your mind and expand your life. This is a basic list because I know people like a little direction.
• A MINIMUM of a once a week journal documenting this odyssey. Can be a written journal, blog, insta feed, FB page, audio recording, digital journal, whatever! But you have to journal this experience.
• Read 20 books
• Weekly educational podcast (minimum)
• Learn one new and advanced skill
o A musical instrument, pilot license, scuba certification, diasaster emergency search and rescue volunteer, etc.
o These examples seems like big projects – they are. That is the whole point.
That’s it! ☺
The 2019 Health Odyssey.
If anyone would like to join me on this epic experience I am happy to share what I am doing and assist you.
Can you make your own version of this? Sure! But beware – if you are starting this and trying to make it less challenging, less painful, then you are not doing it.
You are either in or you are not in. There is no halfway in. That is simply a re-creation of all the shit programs everyone starts in the New Year. It has to be a year. If you miss anything or slip up, that’s ok, but you’ve failed.
What will the result of this grand experiment be?
I don’t know. But I want to find out. I want to know – if we do that much to take care of our health, our mind, and our spirit – just how much of a difference will that make in our lives?
I know, it’s a bold statement, the GREATEST training tool on Earth. However, I do not jest! Diversity is uber important but that doesn’t mean there is not a place for consistency and focus, for taking the time to truly master something and to pursue advancement of your skills.
Kettlebells are literally just that awesome. Why? What would make me proclaim such a bold statement? In a word: versatility.
The pillars of your health are strength, cardio, stability, and mobility (I consider flexibility to be a primary component of mobility because in order to be mobile you must be adequately flexible). In order to adequately train each of these pillars has traditionally been considered a full-time job and I think this is what has caused people to shy away from fitness. It can be daunting to start exercising when you think you have to dedicate 2 hours a day in order to fit everything in!
The truth is that this is not necessary!
Enter the versatile kettlebell.
In a single training session, nay, in a single exercise flow, you can effectively target EVERY pillar of your health. You can build strength, increase cardiovascular ability, create stability, and improve your mobility. Additionally, kettlebells are cheap, take up almost no space, don’t require much space to use, and with the diversity of exercises possible they will last a lifetime.
Now exercise purists are going to say that this is not possible, that we must train each individual aspect of our health separately in order to maximize how well we can develop. If you are an Olympic or professional athlete I might agree. You are not. So there is no need to train that way.
The goal is to be strong, healthy, and fit to accomplish life. And that is truly where the kettlebell excels.
This is pretty simple actually. Make your body move heavy things and it will get stronger. Seriously, it is actually that simple.
The kettlebell very easily accomplishes this objective. They are heavy and can be made very very heavy! You move it around. Mission accomplished: you will build strength.
Oft forgotten is the versatility and variety of kettlebell movements. Dumbells and barbells stay in a very fixed position throughout movements and if you are training on exercises machines movements are completely fixed. With kettlebells you can perform these fixed position movements but you can also let things get really awesome and let the kettlebell do what it was meant to do: move!
The ability to swing the kettlebell through a variety of arcs means that you can really play with physics and give your body a far better workout than with traditional barbells and dumbells. Without getting too technical it is all about levers and moment arms. As the kettlebell moves around you the forces on the body are constantly changing which adds a huge amount of work to the body, the result? You get even stronger.
You do not have to run or cycle to build cardiovascular health. In the research shows time and again that short bouts of high intensity exercise builds better cardiovascular health than long bouts of steady state exercise.
Get off the elliptical and start swinging a kettlebell.
Most ketllebell training is done in circuits, meaning you put multiple movements together to make an exercise vs. the traditional one movement training of dumbells, barbells, and machines. Add to that the fact that kettlebell work is best done in intervals as opposed to sets and reps and you have a cardio blasting machine.
If you have never done 5 minutes of kettlebell swings or 2 min intervals of kettlebell clean and press you don’t really know what cardio training is!
Our joints need to be stable and there are dedicated muscles surrounding each of them to provide this stability. There are two ways to train this stability, 1) isometric, and 2) resistive.
Isometric stability is stationary. Grab something heavy, stand up, and hold it overhead. Just stand there holding it until you are too tired to hold it anymore. THAT is isometric stability. You do this all the time carrying your child, or a purse, or groceries. A static position where your joints need muscular support to keep them healthy. Without this support the joints themselves take on the job and wear out faster.
Resistive stability (this is my own term FYI, scientifically it would be called proprioception) is joint stability during movement. When we walk, throw a ball, jump, pick up something or lift something heavy, we are thinking of the specific task at hand. Getting the ball across the field or picking up that box of supplies. You are not thinking about each and every joint and which muscles must turn on and work to make that movement happen.
You throw the ball but are not thinking about what your hip and ankle are doing!
Kettlebells create dynamic movement in a way that is much more similar to the things you do in daily life or during sports and physical activities. This in turn trains all of those ‘other’ things that you aren’t thinking about!
How much range can you move through? Can you sit down on the floor and get back up? Can you reach overhead? Can you shoulder heck while you drive? Can you pick up your dog? Can you carry your dishes across the room and put them away?
This all requires mobility. Every joint you have has ranges of motion that they are designed to go through and kettlebells challenge them all! These ranges are dynamic and very rarely happen in exactly the same path twice. The nature of moving kettlbells aroud directly mimics this and keeps your body mobile and stable in much more natural movement patterns.
What about flexibility? If your joints are mobile enough then they are flexible enough. There is no need for a static stretching program when you are doing the right kettlebell movements. In fact, if you become flexible without developing the stability in those positions you can do far more harm than good!
We now know kettlebells are awesome. Here are my top kettlebell exercises that you SHOULD be doing regularly.
The Top Kettlebell Exercises
The Turkish getup. Literally a full body mobility and stability master. Do it with weight and you get strength, do it quickly and boost your cardio. There is no better all around exercise in the world than this!
The classic and most basic kettlebell exercise. Perfect the swing as it is both awesome and the base movement of many of the other to kettlebell movements.
WAY harder than they look. A fantastic exercise to improve back mobility and shoulder stability at the same time. You NEED to do these properly and might have to do some work before attempting them if your back is not currently flexible!
Clean and Press
You want some serious strength? This is your jam! Either one side at a time or get crazy with a double clean and press, this is the exercise to really work at moving heavy loads! Master the swing first!
A great combo of strength, cardio, and stability, with a side of coordination built in! This is an advanced exercise that will challenge every muscle and system in your body. Like the clean and press can be done one sided or two at a time!
Racked Squats and Lunges
Getting the legs working is important! Holding kettlebells in the racked position ensures that the core is challenged while you go through the movements. Don’t get stuck in one direction! The best way to leverage these exercises is by varying the direction, load, and depth on a regular basis!
Simple as the name sounds. Pick up kettlebells and carry them. Overhead (waiter), at your chest (racked), or by your side (farmer and suitcase), are the main ways to carry the ‘bells. Mix it up between one kettlebell and two kettlebells and don’t get stuck with boring walking. Go forward, backward, sideways, up and down stairs and hills, over obstacles, around obstacles, mix it up ALL the time!
I love kettlebells. You should too. They are awesome and they will take care of every aspect of your health and fitness.
Get a great coach to make sure you are doing it right and to build you some programs. Even better, join my online training platform where I have an entire kettlebell training program!
Ok. This one is going to seem CRAZY. Legitimately you are going to think I am off my rocker and headed right to the insane asylum.
This is scary actually and is indicative of some really huge issues with our culture. More on that later. For now let us discuss what a reverse New Years Resolution is.
I am issuing you a challenge beginning now. Not tomorrow, or on Monday, or any other time in the future. The challenge starts now. Instead of waiting for the New Year to start another resolution that you won’t follow, again, I am going to help you change your life. Literally.
If you do this, you will change your life.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. Finish this entire article! You are going to want to close this page as soon as I issue my challenge, which is a huge part of the problem! But hear me out! Read to the end!! THEN you can make your decision.
What is the challenge?
Starting now until January 2nd (yeah, so 12pm on New Years it isn’t over…nice try)…..
Do not drink or consume any alcohol.
None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
OH MY FUCKING GAWD COACH TAYLOR!!! ARE YOU CRAZY!!!!!
But it’s Christmas! It’s the holidays? What about New Year’s Eve?
HOW AM I GOING TO LIVE?
Shhhhhh. It’s ok. I know. I know you are going to suffer some trauma here. This will be so challenging. Your life as you know it won’t be complete. No one will like you. You won’t be any fun. You’ll have to deal with your inlaws. Your children will annoy you more than they ever have in the past. You might go postal and be forced to murder someone because you can’t escape with that beautiful glass of merlot.
You’re crying now. I understand. You are a part of our societal collective addiction.
What is that?
As a culture we are addicted to a drug. Here, this is what an addiction is:
All the time when I mention this challenge people freak out. I hear the ‘I CAN’T’ mantra all the time. Well guess what? Alcohol is a drug that does us harm and people have an inability to stop partaking in it. How is this not an addiction?
Oh wait, you NEED it…to relax, to unwind, to be able to spend quality time with your significant other…ummmmm. No. You don’t NEED it. You might WANT it, you might LIKE it, but physiologically you do not NEED it.
Whether it is a physiological addition or a behavioural addiction is irrelevant. If it is something you cannot stop or refrain from it is an addiction.
The facts are that alcohol is a very damaging drug with a litany of horrifically harmful physiological effects. Sorry, but there is no health benefit to alcohol. Yes, you are going to come at me with the ‘glass of wine is good for you’ mantra touted by so many to justify their consumption but the facts are it is not. The polyphenol, reservatol, that is found in red wine ISN’T FROM THE WINE. It is found in grapes, peanuts, and mulberries and all sorts of other plants. Eating those foods gives you the actual health benefit without the negative health side effects of alcohol. Most studies purporting the benefits of alcohol consumption are observational studies demonstrating correlation and not causation.
As a culture we don’t want to believe the fact that alcohol is really, really, fucking bad for us because then our little bubbles of happiness might be popped.
This is even scarier when we look at the thoughts of purported ‘health professionals.’ I was sent this from one of my online followers recently. The Spartan race organization issued a challenge: for 30 days, no sweets, no processed foods, 8 cups of water daily, and 45 min of exercise daily. Then this ‘health expert’ responded by saying they will not support, ‘your ridiculous and unnecessary nutrition challenge. Promoting disordered eating, especially in athletic women is disgusting.’
That’s right…avoiding processed foods and candy, drinking water, and adding in exercise is now being called disordered eating. What the hell would this poor precious snowflake of a sport nutritionist think of my no alcohol challenge? OMG I am probably about to destroy the lives of so many people….
Now let me say something…
I DO NOT CARE if you choose to drink or not. I really truly don’t care. You do you, I will do me, Sally can do Sally, and Sam can do Sam. What you choose to ingest isn’t my business and doesn’t affect my life.
I am simply issuing you a challenge that goes far beyond the simple cessation of ingesting poison.
If you want to take control of your health and make positive lifestyle changes you are going to have to do some difficult things. Some hard things. A great book by Ben Horowitz sums it up perfectly in just the tittle: The Hard Thing About Hard Things. The books basic premise? Hard things are hard. Duh.
To truly change your habits and your health, to truly become psychologically stronger and more resilient you have to do some hard things, you have to make some difficult decisions, you have to make some sacrifice.
You will NEVER make any long term lasting changes little bit by little bit or without enduring some hardship and making some sacrifices. It is overcoming these obstacles that truly make an impact in our lives and truly elicit a change. Check our Ryan Holiday’s book, The Obstacle is the Way.
That is the purpose of this challenge
To do something hard, something difficult, something that will hurt a little, that you have to overcome.
This is WHAT a CHALLENGE is.
If it was easy it wouldn’t be a challenge! Doing major things in January is fucking easy. Everyone does it. Part of the reason why it NEVER works. January isn’t hard. Not drinking any alcohol for the entire holiday season, now THAT is hard for most people.
But if you can do it, what couldn’t you do? If you can make this sacrifice during this time the rest of the year is easy. Seriously. Nothing else will be as difficult. You will have already established a major healthy habit BEFORE the New Years Resolution season begins.
You might be surprised to hear this but did you know that you can actually have fun and be social without drinking alcohol? You can visit with family and friends, you can play games, you can do outdoor activities, you can have meals, you can read ans share good books, you can have conversations, you can watch movies, you can go to a movie, you can laugh, cry, hug, kiss, have sex, cavort, smile, and a million other things ALL WITHOUT ALCOHOL.
This might surprise you. And this is a huge problem with out culture. So many times I hear, and even worse, so many times people truly believe, that you NEED alcohol. This is scary. This is addiction.
If you can’t enjoy your life without ingesting a drug there is something wrong. For some reason we have made this addiction completely acceptable as a culture. Even more scary we actually actively tease, torment, ridicule, curse, and lambaste people who DON’T drink booze. We ostracize them and turn them into outliers because they choose not to poison themselves.
That is some fucked up shit.
Again, I don’t actually care what you do. I am issuing this challenge because I want you to be in control of you and I want you to be healthier and happier. And in the long term this will have that effect.
Even if you restart your glass of wine a day habit in January this is still going to be hugely impactful on your life. You will know that you CAN make a sacrifice and overcome obstacle. And that is a very, very powerful feeling. It will give you the power and fortitude to make any decision.
I have currently not had any alcohol for over 11 months. I have been social, had dinner parties, been to some of the best restaurants in the world, and many other activities usually associated with alcohol. I have been through all the holidays, seasons, birthdays, anniversaries, and other events usually associated with alcohol. I have survived.
There is not a SINGLE instance looking retroactively that I think, ‘oh man, I really wish I had had a beer, or a glass of wine when I did that.’ Zero. None.
I promise, you will not hit January 2nd and think to yourself, ‘if I had just had a few glasses of wine that holiday season would have been SO much better.’ I promise.
You might just be proud of yourself for accomplishing something that no one else had the fortitude to do. You might FEEL good physically and emotionally. You might just be stronger and more capable to take charge of your life, to make the decisions and enact the habits that will lead to a healthier you.
I say you just might, I mean, you will.
[NOTE: if you do toughen up and accept this challenge…message me! Join my facebook group and post about it!!! I would LOVE to be a part of your journey!!!]
Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? By: Dr. Mark Hyman
There is a lot of confusion in the world of diet and nutrition books. The vast majority of the books exist only to sell you products or espouse a particular ideology that is most likely not based on actual science.
This is the only nutrition book I currently recommend and it is NOT a diet book!
Dr. Hyman does a great job of going through proper human nutrition and answering the WHY of what we should be eating. It is a comprehensive guide to the types of food you should be eating vs. a diet plan.
I highly recommend this book to gain a better understanding of the real food that should be making up the majority of your diet!
I get it…the holidays are busy and for a lot of people very stressful. Add to this the plethora of indulgent food and you have a recipe for poor health choices and entering the new year worse off than you are right now.
Do you know what one of the best ways to combat stress is? Exercise!
For most of you finding the time is a huge challenge but do not fear! Coach Taylor has your back!
I will be publishing a Fit for the Holidays training program. A series of workouts designed to keep you strong, fit, at least partially sane for the month of December.
What: Workouts that can be done with minimal to no equipment that are 10-15 minutes long.
They will be all you need to keep strong, get a great cardiovascular workout, and de-stress!
You do not NEED equipment for these workouts, however, if you have a jump rope and a kettlebell you will really be able to maximize the program!
How: Signup for one month of my online platform and have full access to the Fit for the Holidays training program.
As an added bonus you will also get access to all of the other training programs I am currently running, so if you do have a day with a little bit more time you can give one of my full training sessions a go!
Want more information?
Contact me on Facebook, Instagram, or email me via my Evolution Online Fitness or Coach Taylor website!
Low carb dieting has become so ingrained into our culture that we rarely even question whether it is actually necessary or not. It has literally become normal and most diet trends are low carb focused (think Paleo, Keto, and Carnivore). Hearing a friend refuse food or adjust restaurant menu offerings to ‘lower the carbs’ doesn’t even make most of us bat an eye any longer even though a few years ago we would have rolled our eyes at this same comment the way we do today when our friends request the latest gluten free item. (Gluten free….pretty much just low carb in another guise).
The truth is that the human body is a carbohydrate loving machine and is literally built to use carbohydrates. This is isn’t what causes the problems with bodyfat and diabetes. Those issues stem from the type and quantity of carbohydrates consumed.
People have a lot of opinions about carbs yet don’t have a basic understanding of what they are and I have permanent scars on my tongue from biting it constantly listening to poorly informed idiots (sorry, I mean people) espouse whatever theory they have recently glommed on to from daytime talk TV shows or newsstand magazines and their favourite celebrity.
Facts: carbohydrates are good for you and your body functions best when it consumes them.
Your brain is a beautiful machine and prefers to eat glucose. In fact it eats somewhere between 25 and 30% of all the calories you eat in a day. A true monster! Glucose is its primary food source and when there isn’t enough glucose it will get slow and sluggish after starving the rest of the body of every ounce of glucose available. Your liver and all of your muscles act as a glucose repository to make sure there is always a plentiful supply on hand.
Should your body not get enough carbohydrate to fuel all of the glucose needs in your body it will eventually make ketones, which are essentially the safety net of your brain. That amazing organ has to stay alive so we have this emergency backup system. Ketones let you turn bodyfat into energy for your brain and while it isn’t what your brain prefers it can live off of them.
This is where the low carb diets come from. The idea that you can convert your body over to a fat burning machine causes most people to salivate more that that box of cookies over there does. Drop your carbs low enough and start getting all your energy from body fat. What could be better?
And it works! People drop fat when they witch to this approach. For a while. The credit goes to the low carb diet but for the vast majority of people the ketogenisis (switching over to burning ketones) never actually happens….
Carbohydrate amounts have to decrease to extremely low levels in order to have this process occur, like, really low amounts. Usually under 20 grams per day for men and under 10 grams per day for women! A single apple can have over 30 grams in it, one cup of broccoli has 7 grams of carbohydrate. Most people who ‘go low carb’ never get them low enough to switch to ketosis.
But they all lose weight!
Yes. Because they have gone on a diet and changed what they are eating. Instead of bags of chips, fast food, too many servings of bread, cookies, crackers, cereal, granola bars, juice, shakes, and a host of other carbohydrate rich foods, they eat more healthy food, which is lower in calories. It isn’t the lack of carbohydrate that is making the changes, rather it is the fact that they are eating less calories. The credit is always given to the removal of carbohydrate.
There is so much more to carbohydrates than people realize and this is where the issues come from. Maybe not right now or even a few months from now but over a longer time scale issues will arise.
Plants are mostly all carbohydrates. There are some that are higher in fats (like avocados and coconut) and some that are higher in protein (legumes and soy beans) but in general plants are mostly carbs. Grains, vegetables, fruits, grasses, nuts, seeds, and all plant sources are carbohydrate rich. That is their superpower!!! They turn sunlight, water, and soil into the very food that our brain, muscles, and organs want to eat! Fuck Ironman and Batman, plants are the true superheros.
It is not just the carbs that plants come with that we have to think about. It is the vitamins, minerals, and fibre they are packaged together with that are so very vital to our bodies. All of which cannot be garnered from animal sources. (NO I am not a vegan or vegetarian and I am not saying do not eat meat or animal products!).
The body of literature concerning the importance of the bacteria living in us and on use grows on a daily basis. As a culture we have finally realized that we NEED this community of bacteria, commonly referred to as our microbiome, to be healthy and to function optimally. These little organisms need fibre for food. It is all that they eat and when we curtail eating carbohydrates we deprive them of their only food source severely weakening this all important symbiotic relationship.
We need to eat fibre.
But ALL THAT SUGAR!!!
The other side of the lack of basic education people display when they discuss eating carbs is the concept of sugar. People are constantly talking about not eating sugar to better their health, usually as they down some packaged concoction that has removed added refined sugar and replaced it with whatever current chemical concoction tricks your body into tasting sweetness. I am not even going to get into that topic right now.
The facts are this: ALL carbohydrates are sugar. Sugar is just the scientific term for carbohydrate. Glucose, fructose, galactose, lactose, and a ton of other ‘oses’ are the names of various saccharides. Which is…the scientific term for carbohydrate!
ALL carbohydrates are sugars. There are more complex ones and there are less complex ones. It doesn’t matter what carbohydrate you eat it will eventually be broken down in the body into the simplest form of sugar. And what is that?
Remember that from before? It is your bodies preferred source of energy!
The above mentioned broccoli, bread, peppers, tofu, cereal, apples, pineapple, eggplant, tomatoes, beans, rice, corn, kale, spinach, potatoes, pasta, and every other plant based food you eat will be broken down into glucose.
Carbphobia tells us that we need to avoid the sugary carbs in favour of the less sugary ones and this is where the misunderstanding comes from. THEY ARE ALL SUGAR.
The difference comes down to packaging. Added sugars like high fructose corn syrup, table sugar, cereals, and other highly processed foods are mostly broken down to their simpler constituent forms before you ever eat them. So your body doesn’t have to do much work to get that glucose where you need it to go. These simpler forms are also far easier to consume in mass quantities, as they don’t trigger satiation the same way more complex food does.
What does more complex food mean? When you eat white table sugar it is almost pure glucose. Simple. You eat it and your body very quickly gets it into the blood ready to put it to work.
When you eat a plate of broccoli everything is in its natural state. In one package there is glucose, fructose, maltose, lactose, and sucrose, in addition to fibre. When you eat it your body has some work to do. It has to unpackage all the constituent parts first. Then it has to break all of those different sugars down into the simplest form, glucose. The fibre it cannot break down so it lets it keep going through the digestive tract, where it is consumed by all the little microbes and bacteria living in your gut that are vital to health and only eat fibre.
This whole process is called….digestion!!!!
And this is the crux of the entire understanding of carbohydrate.
Carbs are not bad. We need them and we use them. Where the issue arises is when we eat too many carbohydrates that have been processed or broken down into the simple version of saccharides BEFORE we eat them.
Added glucose and other simple sugars into the foods that you eat is the problem. Your body doesn’t have to do anything to unpakage it or break it down so it gets over consumed and very quickly sent into the blood stream wreaking havoc on our hormone levels and providing far too many calories at a time. This is also why liquid sugars are even more problematic as there is even less digestive work for your body to do.
Simple refined sugars and highly processed foods are all absorbed to quickly, require minimal digestion, and are far more easily over-consumed.
The issue is not eating carbs it is WHAT carbs we are eating.
And the answer is actually quit simple.
Eat food in its most natural state. Whole vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grain rice, and fermented foods are what your body was designed to eat. You have to bite them and chew them to kickstart the incredible process known as digestion where your body will break everything down, convert it to fuel, and feed your microbiome.
Depriving your body of these foods and this nutrition is a really terrible idea.
But our bodies are absolutely incredible machines that can take a lot of hardship. People treat their bodies poorly but we have so many safety mechanisms in place it is hardly noticed in the short term letting people satisfy their immediate desires (lose weight) without suffering dire health consequences.
If we could only begin to think on a longer time scale, say in decades rather than weeks or months, we could begin to understand an appreciate the true ramifications to our health. And the truth is that your body was designed to eat carbohydrate rich foods, in fact, it needs them.
Carbs are not the enemy, highly processed foods ARE.
Should you eat kimchi? Should eat you any fermented foods? Or are they going to kill you?
It is insidious how easily the modern technological age has been abused to garner attention for advertising. Today, what we call ‘news’ is more often than not a blogger just trying to get viewers by using flashy headlines. It is so bad that even the mainstream media gets sucked into dubious and even outright false ideas wholeheartedly, turning around and reporting it as actual news.
It is scary. It has huge ramifications for your health. It is what makes everything so damn confusing.
Recently a blog….sorry…I mean a news article was written with the following headline:
Omg. That is scary stuff. STOP EATING KIMCHI RIGHT NOW OR YOU WILL GET STOMACH CANCER!!!!! Forget the health claims of the last dozen decades! Stop eating kimchi right now!
This is how the media manipulates us. Their only goal is to create scary headlines that get you to click on the article so you can be fed ads. If you think I am being a little overboard here, please read the above mentioned book.
‘Eating kimchi increase the risk of cancer.”
And lets not forget the photo of the poor young girl doubled over in stomach pain. Definitely not there to elicit an emotional reaction…
Scare tactic 101.
And two journal sources are cited because as soon as you cite a published journal article the weight of truth becomes that much stronger. To be fair this blog actually cited two articles in legitimate journals (yes, there are a LOT of shitty journals out there…), which you already knew because you went an read them right?
No. You probably didn’t. You probably threw your kimchi in the garbage and told everyone you know they should do the same!
This is why it is so dangerous.
If you actually dive into the studies (yes, I read them both including all the boring statistical parts and methodology etc. etc.) you will see that: 1) Kimchi was not proven to cause cancer 2) There are serious flaws in the studies 3) The studies are not new
How is this?
The blogger….sorry, journalist, who wrote this piece is looking to create views and likes on the blog….sorry, news source, she works for. In the last few years she has written over 1500 ‘news stories’, ALL with headlines designed to illicit an emotional response from you. Her aim is not to deliver news but to scare you into reading the headline. Somewhere she heard someone mention that kimchi is related to cancer, did a quick search of available literature, found a couple of articles that could easily be defended as actual evidence, and then wrote a scare piece. You read it and then see all the ads embedded in the piece and surrounding it. Mission completed.
If you read the rest of the article, or even better the cited sources, you quickly come to realize that no one anywhere has actually studied the relationship between kimchi and cancer.
It is a correlational relationship with no direct evidence of causation.
Essentially, they asked people who had stomach cancer if they like eating salty foods. The people who liked eating salty foods tended to have more cancer. Kimchi is fermented with salt, therefore kimchi causes cancer.
The other study conducted interviews with cancer patients about what they ate over the last year and tasked some non-cancer patients what they ate over the last year. The ones who reported they ate more fermented foods had a higher incidence of cancer. Bam. Fermented foods cause cancer.
No. This is what is known as a correlation and it is based on extremely bad evidence. In fact the authors of one study state in their own conclusion that a host of other factors could be at play, including the idea that people with gastric cancer gravitate towards these foods subconsciously as their symptoms begin.
This doesn’t mean that if you suddenly start craving kimchi you now have stomach cancer.
See how easy that was to believe?
Why am I writing this?
Because I want you to be smarter than the average person. I don’t want you to instantly believe every headline. You need to question everything, yes, even me!
Dig into the data. If you have no training in dissecting research and statistics then you need to find trusted resources to do it for you, like me! I will do this for you! See above…I did it for you!
But question everything because the world of human health, nutrition and fitness is very personal and very important to all of us and is therefore extraordinarily easy to manipulate. And trust me, you are being manipulated way more often that you would ever believe!
When it comes to kimchi and fermented foods, they are good for you. They do far more benefit then they do harm and you need to have them in your life.
Do your own ferments to know the true quality and ingredients. They are tasty, delicious, and healthy. They have been eaten for the entire history of humanity and they need to make a resurgence.