The Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage is finished and it was a fantastic trip. Culturally, it was great. It was a completely different kind of travel than the usual backpacking or vacationing we all do. Strolling through tiny villages… up and down mountain paths.. in rural Japan– Wow!
Of course, there was also a spiritual component. Even though I don’t know a lot about the specific type of Buddhism practiced by the temples (Shingon Buddhism… founded by the great Japanese Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi)… it was impossible not to feel a sense of peace, calm and mindfulness while walking and visiting the temples.
Lastly, this was a significant fitness challenge. We averaged 5-6 hours a day of walking,.. plus 20-30 minutes at each temple. We took some buses and trains too… in order to finish the whole walk in 30 days. Needless to say, my aerobic fitness level was fantastic by the end of the trip (something I’m maintaining and building on).
On the other hand, this was a very difficult trip nutritionally. Being a vegetarian in rural Shikoku is not easy! We ate a TON of Udon noodles. Nearly every day, that was our lunch and dinner. Which means we got a lot of processed carbs (think: eating spaghetti for lunch and dinner every day).
Now that I’m back in Osaka, I’m eating much healthier. I’m also running every day (about 7 miles a day.. every single day).
One of the big realizations of this trip was that I have been living with a mediocre standard of health for about 7 years. I let my standards slip… every so slowly and gradually. During that time, I added nearly 20 pounds of fat to my body.
As I strolled along every day, I thought about this… and I projected forward. I imagined what kind of health and energy and vitality I wanted for the rest of my life. Did I want to go down the path of most people in the modern world…. or did I want the kind of life-long super-vitality of people like Jack Lalanne (who works out 3 hours a day at age 95).
Of course we all want life-long super-vitality.. but then the next question came: am I willing and eager to do what it takes to have that vitality? Am I ready to raise my standards much much higher in this area of my life? In the past, I have wanted to… but didn’t.
But I really got associated to the consequences of both paths (the normal and the super-health path) on this trip. I could see and feel what kind of life I’d have,… depending on choices I make now.
And so I decided to commit totally to Super Health and Fitness…. with the same no-compromise attitude I have towards being a vegetarian.
My decision is to be a model of health, fitness and vitality now… and for the next 4-6 decades of my life… and to eventually help others live this way as well.
I’m starting a new blog called EffortlessFitness.com to chart my progress on this path. I’m adopting a natural raw food (vegan) eating habit and have committed to doing 12 marathons in 12 months (starting sometime next summer).
The starting point (last month, before Shikoku):
Weight: 170 pounds (77kg)
Sugar/Carb-addict (ice cream, candy bars, pasta, rice)
Where I’m at now:
Weight: 164 pounds (74.5 kg)
No ice cream or sugar in 3 weeks
Drastic drop in carb intake
No pizza in 5 weeks
Taking 2-3 “Superfood Shakes” a day
Running 7 miles a day, every day
Feeling 1000x better.
As additional leverage for myself… I have been thinking about 2 old friends who each died, suddenly, of heart attacks. Both deaths came as big shocks to me.
I also think of many family members whose health has deteriorated. I’ve watched their vitality and energy drain away. I’ve seen their passion for life fade. People who used to be full of life and humor now constantly complain about being “tired” all the time.
Then I think of Jack Lalanne and his wife… both full of passion, energy, enthusiasm, strength and happiness. Jack is 95 this year… his wife is in her 80s (I believe).
I hope, in the long-term, not just to transform my own health… but to learn strategies to help others make the same changes. I know that many many people want to do this… but feel betrayed by their own minds and bodies… by deeply entrenched habits and cravings that feel impossible to break.
(Of course, the massive multi-billion dollar food & pharmacy industries are working against them… bombarding people with advertising and conditioning and supporting these unhealthy cravings).
So that’s the new mission I have adopted– first make the change in myself…. then help others do the same!